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A Guide to Manage Winter Allergies and Asthma

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By Dr. Pavan Yadav

During the winter months, colds, flu, and other respiratory illnesses are quite common. These infections have also been linked to an increase in asthma symptoms. When an asthmatic inhales cold, dry air, the muscles in the lungs may spasm in an attempt to keep the airways open. This irritates the airway lining, even more, resulting in coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Asthma symptoms and flare-ups can be triggered by chilly air, especially when it is dry. The dryness of cold air can cause breathing issues for many persons with asthma. Some of the symptoms are coughing, whether dry or with phlegm, wheezing, especially while exhaling, shortness of breath, and stiffness in the chest. Symptoms might also be triggered by cold air combined with windy circumstances. The more severe your asthma is, the more likely you are to be affected by cold air.

Tips to manage asthma during winter:

Refer to the asthma action plan you created with your doctor if you start to wheeze or feel short of breath. Other basic recommendations for what to do if you experience an asthma attack include: Using a quick-acting rescue inhaler, take two to six puffs. The drug should help you breathe more easily by opening up your airways. Instead of an inhaler, you might be able to utilise a nebulizer. A nebulizer is a device that converts your medicine into a tiny mist that you inhale. Wait 20 minutes before taking another dosage if your symptoms aren’t severe but don’t improve after the first few puffs from your inhaler and call your doctor as soon as you feel better.

Despite the fact that winter eliminates seasonal pollen allergies, millions of people suffer from additional winter allergies as a result of their inactivity. In the winter, distinguishing between an allergy and a cold might be difficult. In both cases, sneezing, a runny nose, and congestion are frequent symptoms. Allergies, on the other hand, are the immune system’s reaction to an irritant or trigger, whereas colds are viral infections.  Winter allergens, including moulds, dust mites, and animal dander, can cause illness in the house. Airborne dust comprising lint, fabric fibre, microorganisms, food stuff, and animal dander is circulated by forced-air furnaces. House dust mites, animal dander, and cockroach droppings are three of the most frequent allergens, and they all worsen in the winter when there is less ventilation causing allergies.

Following are some tips to minimize allergen exposure:

*Dr. Pavan Yadav is  Consultant- Interventional Pulmonology, Sleep Medicine, and Lung Transplantation, Aster RV Hospital

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