Asthma poorly controlled going skiing – help and advice?

Well, my son has been begging me to take him skiing for 2 years. I finally relented. I lost 20 pounds since last year and feel less likely to break any bones this year. I was an average skier and feel comfortable with my skill to help him go down the easy runs, though I haven’t skied in 17 years, dumb maybe? But, now I have this new asthma problem. My new asthma doc says he would classify my asthma as severe persistent since I still have symptoms despite lots of treatment, I have some year round allergies (new to me) and I’ve had 6 courses of prednisone in the last 6 months. Last week I was having trouble with cold air and exercise. Also, altitude has bothered me before. 

I will take my inhaler, for sure. Use it before I start and keep it with me. Also, we’ll be skiing pretty close to the lodge. Is there any advice out there? I am new to asthma (adult onset, diagnosis just 5 months ago) and feel like things come up that I don’t even know about.  If anyone knows of any other things I should do to prepare or take with me or med I should ask for- please let me know. I go on Saturday- we live near the mountain so it’s a day trip and the elevation is 5,000-7,000 feet. Help and thanks!


Comments 17

  • Melissa G

    Great job on losing 20 lbs! Way to go! 

    Did you talk to your dr at your appt about going skiing? Did he give you any recommendations? 

    Do you have something to cover your nose and mouth?

  • LK

    I would definitely talk with your doctor telling him everything you have mentioned here.  I congratulate you on losing weight!!        That's awesome!!  

    Cold air is one of my triggers, too and sometimes just a mask isn't enough so I add a gator or scarf over my mask.  Since you will be getting a wind chill while skiing I would definitely wear a gator or something similar that won't slip off while you are skiing.  I haven't been skiing in many a year but I remember how it is difficult to adjust anything while wearing heavy gloves and having ski poles in hand.  

    If after talking with your doctor and you have come up with a good plan, maybe talk with the medical personnel at the ski resort/mountain to let them know your concerns.  As in how would you contact help if you needed it while you were up on the ski slopes or on the chair lift.   

    Do you wear a medical alert ID?  

    Don't want to sound harsh and I know it would be a big disappointment to your son not going perhaps think about waiting to go on this trip since there are several important things to consider. 

    The ones you stated –

    • you haven't been skiing in so long
    • your asthma is still pretty much an unknown since it is so new
    • you will be doing it in the cold which is a trigger for you
    • you have had to be on prednisone several times in the past few months


    Hope this isn't too harsh.  Just want you to consider it carefully.  Good Luck!!

  • K8sMom2002

    Yay for the lost weight and for the urge to explore and have an adventure!

    You've got some great ideas that you're implementing – 

    • ski slope is close to home, so it's not far away from your usual docs
    • you're taking your inhaler and following your action plan
    • you're aware you might run into a problem, so you're preparing ahead —

    Talking with your doctor about a good plan is important, so could you check in with your doc first? I know it's been the holidays, but you still have tomorrow and hopefully everyone is slowly filing back into their offices. 

    Could you also check in with the staff at the slope? Their ski patrol and rescue services might like to have a heads up that you have asthma so that they would be ready just in case. 

    Also, they may have a ski instructor or ski school that could take over in a pinch in case things didn't work out. That way, your son would still have a fun day.

    Another thing: shifts in altitude can mean shifts in air pressure, and for me, that can trigger an attack. Could you go the night before so your body has some time to adjust to one change … and then you on skis once again? It might be well worth the hotel stay.

    Hope you have a safe and easy-breathin' blast!

  • LK

    While I haven't been skiing since I have asthma, about 1 1/2 years ago in July, and also went the year before that, I did go out to the foothills of Colorado to show in a horse show.  The altitude where I live is about 1,000 ft and at the horse show it was about 5,800 ft.  I got there 3-4 days before I was really riding hard and even then I could tell the altitude was affecting me.  The drier air was beneficial but was offset by the altitude.  

    Hope it all works out for you!!

  • Melissa G

    Shadowcat04, are you getting excited about tomorrow? What things have you begun doing to prepare?

  • Shadowcat04

    I have been getting all my clothing ready and made sure I have a good tight scarf that will cover my nose and mouth to make the air warmer (to help with the cold weather breathing). I will use my inhaler before I go out skiing and I have made a baggie to carry my ID, inhaler and emergency info (asthma and allergy and emergency contact) in my coat pocket. I also checked to make sure there is a resort medical clinic and there is. 

    Also, the first thing we are doing is Ben is having his lesson, so I will have time to try things out a little. 

    Im still a little nervous, but I think I’ll be able to get help if I need it. 

  • Dar007

    I love to ski and snowboard but like you, the cold air is one of my triggers. I haven’t gone in over a year but I plan to this year! I think you are doing all the right things in preparing for your day in the slopes…the mask and scarf is what I am planning on doing next week when a I go to a new ski hill not far from where I just moved. Let us know how you did! 

  • Melissa G

    Thinking of you Shadowcat! I hope you and your son have a great, asthma flare free day today! 

  • Shadowcat04

    Well, we went skiing. It was a beautiful day on the mountain. I think my lungs are still recovering from a day of cold air, exercise and elevation, BUT my son and I had a wonderful time together. I used my inhaler before I started skiing and at least 2 times during skiing. I had some bouts of coughing and shortness of breath, but was able to function. The ski resort had its own medical clinic, too. I feel like my breathing hasn’t gone back to like it was before skiing- I see my new asthma doctor in 2 days so I can check in with him about it then. I really appreciate everyone’s advice. It really helped me put together a plan for how to be as safe as possible. 

  • LK

    Shadowcat, So Glad you had a nice time with your son!  And that you didn't have any major problems!!!    

  • Brenda Silvia-Torma

    Shadowcat, I'm so happy it all worked out!!  Also, did you have your doctor's appt with the new asthma doc today? Or is it tomorrow?  


  • Kathy P

    So glad it all went reasonably well! My kids and I also went to play in the snow last weekend! We were mainly hiking/snowshoeing. Here are some things I learned:

    • Elevation is an issue! We got into town at lake level (~6K) on Thursday afternoon. We were coming from sea level. Probably should have taken a day to acclimate before doing anything strenuous! We went out snowshoeing Friday morning at ~8K ft and I was struggling a bit! Nothing too bad, but definitely was feeling like my lungs were extra junky. I was slow and had to keep stopping to catch my breath. Saturday/Sunday were much better – I'd acclimated and we stayed around lake level.
    • I was bundled up too much – I know dressing for downhill is different than XC or hiking/snowshoeing, but I still tend to dress too warmly. This affects my hydration level. I need to be consciously drinking more. I have the same issue when biking, so recognized it right away. My lungs have issues if I'm not well hydrated!
    • I had a lightweight scarf that I used for covering my mouth/nose as needed. Then I bought a fleece balaclava that worked well. It's loose fitting but has adjusters around and across the face. I really liked it when we were out in blizzard conditions snowshoeing around the park. But everything caused my glasses too fog up Ugh!
    • Watch your med routine! For some reason, I easily get out of my routine when traveling and can forget to take my meds even in the morning. It makes no sense! Anyway, I'd forgotten my meds one morning and realized when I was having extra problems. I relied on my rescue inhaler and took my meds as soon as we got back to the condo.
    • Rental properties/hotels can have triggers you might not anticipate. Fortunately, 
  • Shadowcat04

    Thanks for checking in. I can walk normally again (after the pain of skiing wore off). My hand that was stepped on when I fell is almost back to normal, too. Only painful and bruised between the bones, now. I went back for my second asthma doctor’s appointment on Wednesday. I think this one’s a winner. He went over my blood test results. He said it’s too good for biologicals and we don’t want to overmedicate (okay by me) and we should keep up current plan and watch and see what happens. I told him about skiing and needing inhaler- cold, elevation. He said I did the right thing and added that at higher elevations the inhaler doesn’t work as well, so I can do 3 puffs. Good to know. 

    My lung function tests were good and lungs sounded clear, just a little coughing. I got to stop the Singulair. At the end of the appointment I asked for an asthma action plan, which he quickly got for me. It has actual steps that will help stop a flare and/or attack. He also gave a packet of prednisone to carry in my purse (for step 3) so I wouldn’t need to get an RX and wait and all that. Just start the packet and call the office. Lastly, I mentioned that my insurance changed so I was concerned about my asthma meds and he came back in and wrote down the names of 5 other meds we could try if the first one was too expensive and he gave me a two week sample! I think I’ve found my new doctor!

  • Kathy P

    Glad you've recovered! Yikes on the hand! 

    Sounds like a lot of good info from the doc and a comprehensive action plan

    I had not heard that inhalers don't work as well at elevation. Going to have to remember to ask my doc about that. 

  • LK

    Shadowcat,  So good to hear that your new doctor went over so many of your questions and you now have an asthma action plan!