Dr Mark Rosenthal

MD MB ChB FRCP FRCPCH BSc

Consultant in Paediatric Respiratory Medicine

also specialist in Food Allergies & Disorders of Sleep

A | A | A

T: 0207 351 8832

E: s.harvey@rbht.nhs.uk

A:The Royal Brompton Hospital, London, SW3 6NP

Winter and Asthma

Asthma symptoms can often change with the seasons, depending on what triggers your child’s condition. Sometimes it can be worse in the spring and summer, when there’s lots of pollen in the air. However, for some of us the symptoms of asthma can get worse in the winter when we’re breathing in cold air and dealing with common infections such as colds and the flu.

Asthma & Winter

How Does Winter Affect Asthma?

Cold weather can be one of the worst things about winter when you have asthma, but there are a couple of other factors that can affect your condition too. If your child has asthma, then you need to be aware of these common winter asthma triggers that could be causing problems.

  • Cold weather: breathing in cold air can irritate the airways and trigger asthma symptoms for many people, especially when it is also dry outside

  • Colds and infections: respiratory infections can narrow the airways, which may make asthma symptoms worse

Tips for Managing Asthma in Winter

What can you do if your child’s asthma gets worse in winter? Here are a few steps you can take to avoid problems during the colder months.

  • Get flu shots: the seasonal flu vaccine can’t protect your child against every infection, but it can reduce the chances of catching the most common strains of flu that are circulating each year.

  • Avoid infections: you can’t stop every cough and cold, but simple steps like avoiding people who are sick and washing hands regularly can reduce the chances of catching a respiratory infection.

  • Watch the weather: if the forecast says it’s going to be particularly cold, then keep your child indoors as much as possible. There are plenty of things you can do inside, including physical activities like rock-climbing or trampolining as well as visiting museums, playing games, reading or watching films.

  • Wrap up with a scarf: wrapping up warm is important when your child does have to go out in the cold. The scarf is the most important part of this. Teach your child to wear the scarf over their mouth when it’s chilly so that the air they’re breathing in is a little bit warmer. It’s also a good idea to avoid deep breaths, so try to avoid any strenuous activities outdoors in cold weather.

  • Talk to your doctor: if you’re concerned about your child’s asthma or you need more advice on coping with it in winter, then you can always get in touch with your doctor. Make sure that you’re on top of your child’s medication and asthma action plan too. If they use a preventer inhaler, then make extra sure they’re using it as directed when the weather is cold.