Cold air induced asthma affects many asthma sufferers. Asthma affects many people – 300 million to be precise, but it also affects them in different ways. Generally it’s a condition of the airways that connect your nose and mouth to your lungs. During an asthma attack these tubes will narrow, making it difficult to breathe. But there can be different triggers for an asthma attack – one of these is known as cold air induced asthma.
Many asthma sufferers will tell you that they try not to go outside on extremely cold days – so why is this?
When cold dry air is breathed in by somebody with asthma, it can trigger an attack, causing the familiar symptoms of tightening of the chest, coughing and difficulty breathing. This is cold air induced asthma.
Why does cold air trigger asthma ?
The bronchial tubes are coated with a film of mucous which is a layer of protection, keeping out dust and toxic particles. When you breathe in cold, dry air, the moisture in the mucous starts to evaporate and this can cause the tubes to swell and consequently narrow, so not as much air can get through. With asthma sufferers, this can be when an attack begins.
Flu and Colds
This is also the time of year that the common cold and flu variants tend to appear. Anything like this or any respiratory condition can also make the bronchial tubes begin to swell and can trigger or aggravate asthma symptoms.
If you have asthma and you like to go jogging or cycling every day, then the winter months are going to be the most hazardous. In normal temperatures, when air is inhaled through your nose, it’s warmed up and given a boost of moisture. But when you do exercise, you breathe more through your mouth, which brings dryer, colder air into your tubes and lungs. This in turn can lead to more asthma attacks in the cold weather.
How can you prevent cold air induced asthma ?
- There are medications for both short term and long term use available, that help the bronchial tubes relax, but which must be prescribed by your doctor.
- Always carry your inhaler, whatever model your doctor has prescribed to you. Temperature can drop suddenly and if you find yourself away from home with no inhaler, it could be difficult to breathe, especially if you’re anxious. Always be prepared.
- Wear warm clothes and cover your lower face with a scarf.
- Try and breathe through your nose instead of your mouth as the nose lubricates the bronchial tubes.
- Carry out your exercise routine indoors to avoid the cold air forcing you to breathe through your mouth.
- Avoid anyone who seems like they have a cold.
- Drink plenty water to keep everything hydrated.
- Use a humidifier to maintain a comfortable room humidity, reducing the chance of cold air induced asthma.
Can a humidifier help cold air induced asthma ?
It won’t remove your asthma, but yes, a humidifier can certainly help asthma sufferers to breathe easier by removing dry air. Dry air can cause the bronchial tubes to dry out and to combat that, the body will go into overdrive generating too much mucus. Too much mucus can trigger an asthma attack, so getting the right level of humidity into the air will prevent this from happening.
It’s important to point out that the opposite scenario – a room that is TOO humid, can also aggravate asthma and make symptoms worse, and in this case it would be beneficial to use a dehumidifier to bring the humidity level down.
Always check what the humidity level is in your home before deciding you need a humidifier or dehumidifier. You can check the humidity level with a simple hygrometer, which can be bought for around $10.
What type of humidifier is best for cold air induced asthma ?
Well firstly let’s have a think about you and your surroundings. Some people will need certain features that other people may not. For example, if you live in a house that is prone to pollutants – maybe somebody close by smokes, or maybe you have a pet or find it hard to vacuum on a regular basis, then you’ll probably want to think about having some kind of air purifier as well as humidifier.
Some humidifiers come with built in air purifiers and this can save you some money, instead of buying a humidifier AND an air purifier. Consider these air purifier and humidifier combo units…
Venta LW25 Airwasher 2-in-1 Humidifier and Air Purifier
This unit filters out pollutants – pet dander, dust, pollen and other allergens whilst humidifying the room at the same time.
It has a coverage of 400 square feet – so if your room is less than 20ft x 20ft, this is going to work for you.
BONECO 2-in-1 Air Washer W200 – Humidifier & Purifier
Using an innovative evaporator mat, this clean looking unit can humidify 2.22 gallons per day efficiently while filtering out large particles from the air, removing things like household dust and pollen.
This has a coverage of up to 540 square feet – so if your room is less than 23ft x 23ft then this is going to more than adequate for you.
Sharp KC-860U Plasmacluster air purifier
Humidifies up to 347 square feet, so not quite as much coverage as the previous two models, but if your room is less than 18ft x 18ft then this will work just fine. You can choose as to whether you just want to purify the air or purify AND humidify.
The automatic air quality control system uses sensors to constantly monitor the air quality in your room, adjusting for air purity and optimum humidity level, and will also indicate when filters should be cleaned.
Ok so those were some humidifier and air purifier combos, now let’s look at another situation – what if you have kids? Young children like shiny new things that appear in the home – look away for a few seconds and they’ll be toddling over to check it out.
A humidifier that generates warm mist can be hazardous for young children as they could scald themselves easily with the hot steam. You wouldn’t leave a freshly boiled kettle lying around in reach of your children, and so consider the same with a humidifier.
You can reduce the risk of your burns to children with a cool mist humidifier. However you must ensure that you clean the humidifier regularly (at least every three days) and to be on the safe side, use distilled water rather than tap water. Tap water contains minerals which can project into the air. Minerals from top water are not going to help asthma.
Here are some cool mist humidifiers to consider…
TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier
Covers an area of between 431 and 538 square feet. The TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier produces less than 38dB of noise. This makes it a nice quiet option for families with babies and very young children.
This also contains a filter that purify the air. It has a built in timer, LED display and a sleep mode.
This iTvanila humidifier has a relatively low weight. This makes it easy to shift it and place it in different places. It has a strong spreading power even if it’s completely silent while functioning. It has the option of shutting down automatically when required to. There’s an autonomy of at least 12 hours. Add essential oils and aromas to it. Suitable for everyone, women, men and kids and especially helps to enhence the mood .
MistAire XL Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier
Can Humidify the air for 10-24 hours of long operation and will cover rooms of up to 500 square feet. This friendly looking device has an optional night light which offers a lot of relaxation. This is great for getting young children to sleep. It also has an automatic shut off. The device turns off when the water is low or if you removed the water tank.
Remember, too much humidity is also bad for asthma, so always measure the humidity in the room with a hygrometer to ensure that your relative humidity is between 40% and 50%. If it’s lower than this, then consider buying a humidifier. If it’s higher than this then consider buying a dehumidifier.
How to humidify a room naturally
Of course you don’t need to buy a humidifier to get moisture into the air. But if, like most people, you have a busy life, then it’s the most efficient way. There are also other ways to get extra moisture into the air…
- Seal up all the gaps, cracks and leaks throughout your home, where moisture can escape.
- Bring some plants into the home.
- Instead of throwing everything into the tumble dryer, hang wet clothes around the house.
- If you’re taking a bath or a shower, then leave the door open. This will allow the moisture in the room to travel throughout the other rooms of your house.
- Leave water in the bath for a while as well as leaving the bathroom door open.
- Dry your hair naturally. The moisture in your hair will slowly move into the air.
- Instead of microwaving your dinner or throwing everything into the oven, cook more food on the stove. Boiling water will release moisture into the air.
- Fill some bowls of water and leave them near to a source of heat. This could be a radiator, or near the fireplace.
The chances of cold air induced asthma affecting you can be minimized by ensuring there’s enough moisture in the air. You can do this with a humdifier or you can do it naturally. You can read more about these tips in our article: How to humidify a room naturally