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Managing your Asthma and Allergies in the Winter

Wintertime is upon us! Managing your asthma and allergies can be difficult between holiday parties, the cold weather and illnesses. 

 tips for being outside in the cold. 

Be sure to know your ! 

Don't forget to get your flu shot, ! It takes two weeks for the flu shot to take its full effect, get the flu shot before the traveling for the holidays!

When traveling be sure to take your  with you. 

, things you can do to keep your allergies at bay. 

What are you doing to manage your asthma and allergies this winter?

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  • Pljohns

    Melissa-thanks for posting this-it is so hard when the weather is doing yo-yo's all the time but cold weather in particular is tough on my asthma.  I keep a warm scarf on every coat I have, one in my car, one in my desk and an extra one in my work bag to wrap around my face if it's cold and especially if the wind is blowing AT ALL.  Last year I invested in a warming mask-didn't use it much, but it seemed to help.  After the last flare got out of hand when I walked to a store across the parking lot in a really cold wind, it stays in my purse now and no matter what, it will go on.  

    It seems every winter, my lungs are more and more twitchy of cold weather/wind.

    I've had my flu shot and am up to date on both pneumonia shots and if the flu gets as bad this year as it was last year, I'll be wearing a mask again.  It kept me well last year-

    Holiday scents are a nightmare so I try to steer clear of them as much as possible.  I'll hold my breath until I'm well past something, avoid stores that have candles/scented products out and use my mask if necessary to avoid them.  it seems like a mine field to navigate but not doing so will definitely flare me off.  Thankfully we don't do wood burning fireplaces either.  Ours is gas and we only use it in emergencies.  i can't go see my parents in the winter because of the fireplace and they don't understand it-my Dad thinks as long as the smoke isn't in the house, it shouldn't bother me, but it does.

    One of the biggest challenges for this time of year and winter is making people understand-"oh, the smell of the Christmas tree", the fireplace, the "holiday scents"-they are great when you can breathe, but for those of us that are really sensitive to them, it's awful.  We would have such a better Christmas and time with family and friends if we didn't have them all to deal with.

     

  • Deborah Bartlett

    I tried to explain to my SIL on Sunday why we don't use our fireplace. She can't understand why we do not use firepits. 

    I keep this house well dusted because heat creates dust. I cover my face with a scarf and/or mask while outside in the cold. I keep well hydrated…drink lots of fluids. I had my flu shot and second pneumonia shot. I keep up to date with doctor visits. I have an asthma and COPD action plan. If an emergency should arise, I am prepared. I have all my medications handy. I keep stocked on everyday needs in case there is bad weather. I have many cardigan sweaters so I do not get a chill. I have warm bathrobes. I wear those cozy socks to bed so my feet stay warm. 

  • Melissa G
    Pljohns posted:

    One of the biggest challenges for this time of year and winter is making people understand-"oh, the smell of the Christmas tree", the fireplace, the "holiday scents"-they are great when you can breathe, but for those of us that are really sensitive to them, it's awful.  We would have such a better Christmas and time with family and friends if we didn't have them all to deal with.

     

    Yes!!! I could scream this from the roof tops…not that people would listen, but I absolutely agree!

    Deborah, I love campfires, but my lungs do not! My parents have a wood stove insert and Grace and I always have issues when we go over there. That is their main heating source. So we visit very infrequently in the winter. My parents typical response is, you didn't have problems with it when you were growing up.. well I do now! 

  • Pljohns

    Same here Melissa-main source of heat for my parents too and they just don't understand.  Of course, my Dad's solution to asthma is that my lungs have gotten use to the medicine so if I just tapered myself off it, they would be fine and I wouldn't need it any more.

  • Wheezy Me
    Pljohns posted:
    My Dad's solution to asthma is that my lungs have gotten use to the medicine so if I just tapered myself off it, they would be fine and I wouldn't need it any more.

    What a logical solution. A condition that gets out of balance- well, here's the perfect chance to stop treating it altogether! (Would anyone suggest it if it were worsening diabetes or hypertension instead of asthma?)

    Everyone has good intentions, though. It's just hard to explain ourselves each time.

  • Melissa G

    Uughh, Lynn! One year we were staying at my parents for a few days, my dad had just had surgery and we were there helping out. Grace got really sick, so we left a day early. I took her to an urgent care on the way home, sinus infection and bronchitis…my dad still didn't understand why we had left early and why the wood stove is not a good idea. 

  • Deborah Bartlett

    I have been sick for over 5 years now. My husband still doesn't get it. Any of it. I doubt he ever will. I think that if people aren't sick themselves, then they can't understand what goes on. That's why it is important to speak with people who share your illnesses. It really does help!!! 😊

  • LK

    Deborah, Well said.  My DH hardly ever gets sick.  I've had asthma for six years now and he is finally starting to understand and more importantly to notice how I am doing on a daily basis.  It is real work for him to be so observant.  It is not in his nature to notice how he is doing let alone how someone else is doing.  I never, ever thought he would be capable of being as considerate of my limitations as he has been these past few months.

    He still has a very low threshold of how much emotional support he can give but he has changed more than I thought possible, so there is always hope!  

  • Deborah Bartlett

    My motto is Never Give Up Hope! That keeps us going and gives us a chance to look forward to tomorrow! 🌸🍀🌺

    My DH has ADHD. He is not on medication, nor has he ever been. It is very difficult at times to deal with things. I deal with everything the best that I can so I do not get overwhelmed. I basically take care of myself. He really just doesn't have a clue. It is what it is what it isn't!

    I am always glad we all have each other here! Not only is it pleasant, but very helpful! Thanks to all of you for always being here! ❤

  • LK

    I hear you on the difficult at times to deal with aspect.  Also on the basically taking care of yourself.  Same here.  

    Deborah Bartlett posted:

    My motto is Never Give Up Hope! That keeps us going and gives us a chance to look forward to tomorrow! 🌸🍀🌺

    I am always glad we all have each other here! Not only is it pleasant, but very helpful! Thanks to all of you for always being here! ❤

    Well said!  Needed that this morning.  Thanks!

  • Pljohns

    I think it's really hard for a lot of our DH's because they 1)aren't use to us being sick 2) don't know how to do NEAR what we do on a daily basis and 3) don't understand what it's like.  I think in general men have less of a coping mechanism than women do-they either ignore it or shut down or both.  They don't realize the extra hardship that puts on us to deal with it.

    I'm so thankful for this forum of people that truly understands what it's like to live like we do-the challenges, the good and bad times and the down in the dumps times as well.

  • Melissa G

    I think it is really hard for someone to truly understand what another goes through if they have never been through it. 

    My dh never truly grasped how much pain I was in when I was diagnosed with degenerative disk disease. He tried to understand but would get frustrated when I couldn't do things or would complain about the pain for extended periods of time. Last summer, he was diagnosed with a herniated disk in his neck. One day he came home from work and apologized for not being more compassionate. He said that what he was experiencing was miserable and he couldn't imagine being at home trying to take care of three kids under the age of 5 while being in so much pain. 

    This blog post really hits home about how 

  • Dar007

    Oh my gosh…winter and spring/summer is so hard for me. Thank you for posting this. I am trying to figure out if this is all in my head, but the cold is really a strong trigger for me. That I know for sure, but, I am finding when I drink very cold drinks it seems to affect me too. Don’t know what is up with that because I have a sort of addiction to ice cappuccinos (I have at least two a day) and it really causes a flair by the time I get a few sips of it. I don’t know…maybe it is just my imagination. lol But winter weather really does affect me pretty bad. I haven’t gone skiing yet this year which is sad, but I am tired of not being able to breathe. Hope everyone is staying warm and feeling good today. Thank you to everyone for your posts. I learn so much from you. Have a great day!  

  • Wheezy Me

    DAR- hi! No, this is not in your head. Cold air is a well-known trigger for many, including me

  • LK

    DAR007,  Cold drinks are a trigger for me, too!  It's not your imagination.  I used to love a cold glass of ice water in the summer.  Cold air even chilly air below 70 degrees F get to me, too, now.  I wear a mask and scarf over my face whenever I am outside and it's the slightest bit chilly.  

    Even when I was doing physical therapy at the end of the session when I would get a cold ice pack on my back if it was placed too high it would chill my lungs and I could feel my lungs tightening so I would move it lower.  

  • Melissa G

    Dar, do you use a scarf or anything to cover your nose and mouth when you are out in the cold?

  • Dar007

    Melissa G – I have scarfs, I just find it hard to wear when I go out because I wear glasses and they fog up so bad! Maybe in the winter I should wear my contacts more. But I find the hospital is so dry and halfway through my shifts my eyes are so dry and red. No winning I guess! Haha

    Lisa, Wheezy Me – Wow, I really thought I was imagining things. I drink the ice cap, and next thing I know I am coughing and my chest feels tight. After I stop, it slowly get much better. Just weird. 

  • Melissa G

    I understand that! Do you use rewetting drops at all? I changed brands of contacts this year and wow, these don't dry out nearly as much as my others did. 

  • Dar007

    I really need to find something. I miss wearing the contacts. I should ask my optometrist next time I see him. 

  • Deborah Bartlett

    DAR- Cold weather is a big asthma trigger for me. It is bad for my COPD also. I always cover my mouth with a scarf and/or mask. It does help.My doctors advise it as well.

  • Wheezy Me

    For the same reason, drinking hot drinks seem to ease my breathing. DAR, do you feel that too?

  • LK

    Hot drinks like apple cider and hot chocolate seem to help me, too. 

    I remember reading in my middle school history book about how the Incas ( I think) drank chocolate as a bitter drink – not sugar added.  When it, chocolate as a drink, first went to Europe it was served in special shops and was considered a luxury.  (Mind you it's been quite awhile since I was in middle school so my memory could have "adjusted" the "facts"  !     

  • LK

    Oh, and used to love a cold glass of milk with warm, fresh cookies but the cold milk gets to me now, too.  This time of year with all the baking it's hard to not just drink it down but I'm trying to be more sensible and keep breathing easily!  A definite work in progress!  

  • Wheezy Me
    LK posted:

    Oh, and used to love a cold glass of milk with warm, fresh cookies but the cold milk gets to me now, too.  This time of year with all the baking it's hard to not just drink it down but I'm trying to be more sensible and keep breathing easily!  A definite work in progress!  

    I like mixing half a cup of milk with half a cup boiling water. It creates warm milk easily and it's good with cookies/cake too.

    Thumbs up for choosing the wiser option for your health!

  • LK

    That's a brilliant idea, Wheezy Me!  Thank you!!  Going to try that!

  • Dar007

    Deborah Bartlett , Wheezy Me – I do feel that way. Hot chocolate helps in the winter, especially when a I am outside . Not a big coffee drinker, so I always get hot chocolate at coffee shops. I noticed it helped me when I would go downhill skiing too. Deborah, What kind of mask do you use? 

    Lisa –  wow, I never knew hot chocolate was a luxury at one time! Pretty cool to know that. I do enjoy it quite a bit. I am a serious chocoholic! Ha ha  

  • Dar007

    Deborah- Last night couldn’t sleep so I looked on line and actually was looking at that mask. I was also looking at the Cambridge mask. I get paid Thursday so I think I will buy something because I really don’t want to give up snowshoeing and downhill skiing this year. I was thinking about a scarf but these days they make them so long! I am 5’4” and don’t need a scarf that goes down to my toes! way too bulky for what I want to use it for…

  • Pljohns

    DAR-I have both an RZ and a Cambridge and the RZ is definitely warmer-it fits a lot more snug on your face.

  • Pljohns

    The RZ has velcro that you fasten behind your neck so you can fasten it as snug as you want;  the cambridge hooks over your ears

  • Kathy P
    Dar007 posted:

    I really don’t want to give up snowshoeing and downhill skiing this year. I was thinking about a scarf but these days they make them so long! I am 5’4” and don’t need a scarf that goes down to my toes! way too bulky for what I want to use it for…

    LOL – I'm 5'2" and I usually have a "fashion scarf" on that I can wrap around and pull up over my mouth/nose as needed. Since those are thinner than a winter scarf, they aren't as bulky. But I can wrap it around my neck a couple times to have lots of layers to filter the air through to warm it up.

    This isn't all the way up, but you see the type of scarf I mean.

  • Dar007

    Kathy P- very nice! Do you find it fogs  up your glasses? Love the colour! 

  • Kathy P

    I don't usually have issues with my glasses fogging, but if I pull it up over my nose, I make sure to "seal" it at the top under my glasses.

  • Deborah Bartlett

    DAR—That will be great to get a mask!! It is very weird how scarves have changed. I wanted to buy a new one this year. Every store I checked had infinity scarves, but I don't like the idea of pulling it over my head to put it on. Almost looks like a collar!!! Eventually, I will find a normal scarf, but I am fine with what I have. 

  • K8sMom2002

    Dar007, I do hope your new mask will help you continue to enjoy your usual winter activities! Have you talked to your doc about any changes to your to take into account the cold weather?

    Cold weather is a definite trigger for me — but more than cold, it's the sudden change of temperature, either warm to cold or cold to hot. So walking out of a warm house into a cold morning (like today) or walking out of an air conditioned house and getting into a super hot car in the middle of July are both a problem for me.

    One thing I've asked my DH or DD to do is to pre-warm (or pre-cool) the car for me. That way, I'm not exposed to temperature extremes for very long.

    As for sleeping at night … anybody tried putting a pillow on their feet? I do that. If I sleep with socks on, sometimes I get overheated, but without, I can get cold. Too many blankets can make me overheated and hard to breathe, too … the pillow I tumbled onto by accident one night when I was too lazy/sleepy to move my pillow sham off the foot of the bed. It keeps me at just the right temperature without the need for an electric blanket or heavy quilts.

  • Dar007

    Deborah –  I know what you mean about scarves and how much they have changed! I saw those infinity scarves, but it won’t work in the ski slope. 😂 I found some really nice masks on Amazon so tomorrow will order one. 

    Cynthia – you know, now that you mention it, I don’t have an asthma action plan! My family doctor sent me to a pulmonologist and he even mentioned to me that I will be getting one from him, but I was never given one. And I forgot to bring it up since. I should do that. Cold weather is really bad for me. Just the walk from the staff entrance at work to my car, I am wheezing and can’t breathe. It is awful. 

     

  • Wheezy Me

    Cynthia- I sleep with socks on. I guess a pillow works similarly but it has not to move if you move your feet. The important thing is that you found ways to keep as warm as you want to

    DAR- I'm sorry. That's frustrating! This weather upsets my asthma as well. It sounds you might need a higher dose of preventer medicine during this time of year.

  • Deborah Bartlett

    Wheezing is awful. Since I also have COPD, when I wheeze, I have to try and bring up mucus and expel it. Every morning when I get out of bed, I am wheezing. No more wheeze, pleeze. For all of us. 

  • Shea

    Ive been having tough mornings. I am waking up earlier than normal due to my nose being sooooo stuffed up– I mean it feels like my entire head is full of stuff!!— and I blow and blow and it just keeps refilling and that goes on for the first few hours of every day. It is not a fun morning ritual. 

    I tried vacuuming and dusting the whole house, my bedroom air purifier has a good filter and is also vacuumed, all my bedding is allergy-zipper-encased and has been washed in hot water, I have pillows propping me up, my heat is electric, and still… This morning I am the same. My nose is sore from blowinh and sneezing, my head hurts, Im miserable.

    We read a story called the Sneezy Snowman for my son's first grade class– it sooo reminded me of life with asthma and allergies. It was about a snowman who was sneezing because it was too cold then wouls get too warm and melt, and his children friends would remake him adding scarves and hats and a jacket– until he was just a little too warm and tgen had a icecream and was juuust right– not melting, not sneezing…. I need to find that… Maybe I need a humidifier. And my ac filter isnt due to be changed yet but i might change it too.

  • Wheezy Me
    Shea posted:

    Ive been having tough mornings. I am waking up earlier than normal due to my nose being sooooo stuffed up– I mean it feels like my entire head is full of stuff!!— and I blow and blow and it just keeps refilling and that goes on for the first few hours of every day. It is not a fun morning ritual. 

    I tried vacuuming and dusting the whole house, my bedroom air purifier has a good filter and is also vacuumed, all my bedding is allergy-zipper-encased and has been washed in hot water, I have pillows propping me up, my heat is electric, and still… This morning I am the same. My nose is sore from blowinh and sneezing, my head hurts, Im miserable.

    We read a story called the Sneezy Snowman for my son's first grade class– it sooo reminded me of life with asthma and allergies. It was about a snowman who was sneezing because it was too cold then wouls get too warm and melt, and his children friends would remake him adding scarves and hats and a jacket– until he was just a little too warm and tgen had a icecream and was juuust right– not melting, not sneezing…. I need to find that… Maybe I need a humidifier. And my ac filter isnt due to be changed yet but i might change it too.

    Shea, I hear you on that. I have the same morning symptoms and there were years when they drove me nuts. It is not fun at all. Sending hugs your way🤗

    And that story sure sounds cute! Fits this time of the year too. I like hearing children's stories to which I relate.

  • Shea

    Im sorry you have similar morning symptoms WheezyMe!  It really is no fun at all. 

    I did OK today after the first 2-3 hours, but fatigue plagued me, and upset stomach. 

    This evening I did a big decluttering of my room and a deeper vacuum under beds and got tbe blinds really good, and I replaced the ac filter and ran all purifiers on high in my room. And I took extra benadryl because cleaning got me a little stuffy. So hopefull I will pass out and stay asleep and wake up not quite as miserable tomorrow. There is also a chance its close to "that time of the month" for me since everything is making me want to cry today and all my symptoms are worse during that time.

    The highlight of the day eas watching the movie Elf after all the school and house chores and shopping and dinner and cleaning… I just wanted to lie down and my son to be entertained without me having to talk or move. But the movie was good too– always makes me smile.

  • Dar007

    Mornings are tough for me too. I cough a lot for a while just after I get up. Sounds like I am choking. I also did a huge cleaning of my bedroom the other day. Where does the dust come from?? I am hardly home these days! I don’t know what I touched while vacuuming and dusting but my arms got all itchy and full of welts from some kind of allergic reaction. Have to keep up on it that is for sure. Well I    guess I should get up and get moving. Have a double shift today! Have a Good Friday everyone! (I am actually off this weekend!!! Shhhh That never happens. So excited!!! If I had my cold weather mask I would go skiing…) 

  • Pljohns

    Thankfully I don't have allergies but the yo-yo weather is killing my asthma!  I keep a scarf everywhere-car, every coat I have, my desk and an extra one in my work bag in case something happened to the first one.  I also invested in a good face warmer mask last year-it can be washed and isn't meat to be any type of filter, just a warmer.  i forget what material it's made of but it does a really good job of warming the air before you breathe it and that helps me tremendously.  

  • K8sMom2002

    Dar007, that sounds like ! Did you have other symptoms at the same time? Here's more about 

    Could you mention that when you talk to your doctor about an ? And if it's going to be a while before your next appointment, how about a follow up call to your doctor's office and ask if they have one already drawn up for you and in your file?

    Shea and Deborah and WheezyMe, hugs on the tough mornings! Shea, it sounds like you're really trying to get a handle on things. Do you think you could have picked up a cold somewhere along the way? 

    Lynn, love the idea of a good face warmer! I hear you on the yo-yo weather. It's been super cold (for us) … and now it's a lot warmer but very wet. DH swears that when the rain moves out, we'll probably wind up getting cold weather again. 

  • Deborah Bartlett

    It is supposed to get up to 50 degrees today with rain. 99 percent humidity now at 517 am. Yo yo weather!!!!!! Then I bet it will be freezing cold starting on Monday. 😶

  • Dar007

    I am actually off from all three jobs this weeend!!! Shhh, I don’t think they noticed or else I would have been called in. So I got up and thought I would go skiing….but it rained during the night and it is 50 degrees out there, and no more snow. So I thought I might go Christmas shopping. But, it is the weekend and this close to Christmas. I value my life and my sanity, so nope. I guess I could clean the house again…

    Cynthia – I think you are right, they were hives. So itchy and really inflamed. Like I was bit by a mosquito (I am allergic to mosquito bites too), but bigger welts. I don’t know what my arms touched, but whatever it was I reacted badly to it. Might have been dust. I should bring up the action plan to my doctor. The pulmonologist has since moved away (the one I was going to). The medications I Amon are really helping me, so of course when I do go see my doctor, I don’t have really bad symptoms. And I am very uncomfortable with doctors. Funny since I am studying to be one ( paediatric oncologist), and work with them every day. lol I really hate being there for myself. So much so, when I do bring up any problem to my family doctor, he reacts right away! Lol He is really nice. Maybe it is because he knows I don’t go there for nothing and that doctors make me nervous? lol But you are right…he probably doesn’t know the pulmonologist didn’t give me an action plan. That specialist was so bad. Really not a good doctor or helpful in any way. 

    Ok. So I am going to get up, get some comfy sweats on, and I am going to clean and organize this whole house today! Yup! Just as soon as I get up. I have made it from the bed to the living room couch,  so there’s no stopping me now!!!  

  • Melissa G

    Deborah I hear ya! I just wish the winter weather would set in already! Not that I want it bitter cold outside, but this up and down stuff has got to stop. 

    Dar, glad you have some downtime this weekend! I need to do some Christmas shopping too but not crazy enough to go out today! I will go on Wednesday, hoping there won't be as many people out during the middle of the week.