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How do you deal with your asthma in the cold?

On New Year's day morning, the average temperature across the US is supposed to be ten degrees. TEN. For a third of the country, the temp is expected to be below zero. Yikes! Well, I guess 2018 can only get warmer from there….

How does the cold change things for you and your breathing, and what do you do to manage your asthma when it's freezing out? Any tips out there for someone who is newly diagnosed and new to trying to breathe in colder temps?

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  • MMKB

    The cold air causes me to cough and have asthma problems. I wear a Respro Aero mask and a fleece neck warmer. I pull the neck warmer up to help cover my nose and mouth more.

  • Pam Nunez

    I try to cover my face and stay inside when possible, especially if it’s raining. Drink lots of liquids to stay hydrated. The heat tends to dry out my skin and make me itchy. Plus i take steroids a lot during the cold weather and antibiotics too. Just try to stay away from people with colds, flu, strep, etc. 

  • Kathy P

    Great tips! It doesn't get super cold here, but I usually have a scarf on and I pull that over my mouth and nose. 

  • LK

    For the last several years I just wore a Curad flu mask that you can get at pharmacies and a winter face mask over it.  While it kept my breath fairly warm, there is no mechanism for exhaling so my face would get pretty steamy.

    In the past month or so I've been using a Vogmask.  It has a valve for exhaled breath and this seems to help not get my face as moist yet allows me to exhale easily.  Still wear a winter face mask over it.  Also, when my chest gets cold, even if the air isn't that chilly, it affects me so I always wear a warm scarf, too.

    Just got an RZMask.  I ordered the one that they recommended for keeping out hay particles, barn dust, etc. and would allow me to breathe easily while working in the barn.  Before the weather turned so cold, it worked well in the barn.  Since this style is designed for easier breathing while working it does not keep the cold out.  I believe one of their other styles does though.  The only difficulty I have had with the RXmask is it rubbing on the bridge of my nose.  The replaceable filter has foam in this area.  I plan on adjusting the behind-the-neck strap to see if that helps.

    The winter face mask I use has two velcro strips on the back so it is easy to put on and remove.  It has small holes in the mouth area which help. I will try to add a picture.

     

  • Megan Roberts

    Thanks @Pam Nunez, @LK, @Kathy P and @MMKB for the great tips and face mask brand recommendations. Pam thanks for the tip on hydration — I forget that with so much reliance on heaters the airs indoor is probably really getting dried out this time of year. 

    Hope everyone is staying warm and managing ok in the cold many of us are experiencing right now. 

  • LK

    Here's the picture of the cold weather mask I wear over my regular mask.

  • Doug Abrahamson

    After having multiple asthma attacks from the cold air, I get anxious just thinking about going outside when the temperature is below freezing. I tried three or four different masks and none seemed to work until I bought a ColdAvenger mask.

    I got the ColdAvenger Pro SoftShell and it is working for me. Here is the link to the mask - 

     

     

  • K8sMom2002

    Welcome, Doug! Thanks for sharing — with all the cold weather going on now, lots of people are struggling with their asthma. 

    How does this particular mask work differently than the others you've tried? 

  • Doug Abrahamson

    This mask allows me to breathe freely without feeling claustrophobic. It retains the humidity from your exhaled breath which gets combined with fresh air. After wearing this mask several times, I have come to the conclusion that it is not cold air triggering my asthma, but instead, it is the dry air. Hope this helps.

     

  • jtomotaki

    Thanks @Doug Abrahamson  just came here to ask about dry air and asthma and sinus headaches!  My asthma is triggered, I've discovered, pretty much at any temperatures below 60 degrees. However this week my office humidity levels have dropped to 10% and I am feeling more "asthma-y" inside while at work.

    I have a mask but am hesitant to wear it inside at work. Also my sinuses seem triggered by drier air. Not sinus infection pain, but just headache-like. Almost like a brain freeze but not.

    Jenny

  • Doug Abrahamson

    Hi Jenny, After reading your reply, I went looking for a workplace asthma topic but couldn't find one. I don't want to deviate too far from the "dealing with asthma in the cold" topic here.

    I also worked an office environment where the humidity regularly dropped to 10% and also triggered my asthma. My solution was to buy a steam vaporizer and set it on the floor near me so I could occasionally get a few breaths of relief. I also talked to my management and they were kind enough to add a humidifier to their HVAC system. It appears that OSHA considered mandating a minimum humidity level for the workplace but then decided not to pursue it.

    Best wishes resolving your humidity in the workplace problem.

  • K8sMom2002

    @Doug Abrahamson, good to know it's not claustrophobic … I really have a problem with tight spaces and can even get panicked if a tee-shirt gets caught over my head.

    We have all sorts of topics around here — feel free to add, stretch, deviate … we're all good. And if there's not a topic already started that fits whatever's on your mind, then by all means, feel free to start one. We love folks who start new topics!

    @jtomotaki, hugs on the dry air causing more problems. I have the exact opposite — if it's humid, it's hard for me to breathe. But cold air is hard, too — really hard.

  • Jen

    Hi @Doug Abrahamson,

    Welcome to posting!  Thanks for sharing the mask that you use.  Do you use it every time the temperature is below freezing?  Do you ever use it at temps above freezing?  

  • Doug Abrahamson

    Hi Jen,

    No, I do not wear the ColdAvenger mask much above freezing. Above freezing, I usually use a  or a  mask. I like the MyAir mask the best because it is easier to breathe with it on and it works great indoors, like when vacuuming the hardwood floors, but also works well in cold weather above zero.

    Regards,

    Doug Abrahamson

  • Pljohns

    Thanks so much for the recommendations on the cold air mask-I am DEFINITELY triggered by cold air-of any sort including AC air-and normally just wrap a scarf around my face if I have to be out-that hasn't worked too well but has been better than nothing.  I'll definitely look into a cold air mask.