0 Items Currency:
Select Page

How to avoid an asthma attack this winter

November 8, 2023
How to avoid an asthma attack this winter
November 8, 2023

If you’re asthmatic you may already be dreading winter. Why? Because the cold weather can make symptoms – such as breathlessness, wheezing, coughing and chest tightening – worse and even trigger an attack, which can be frightening and even fatal.


‘Breathing in dry, cold air can irritate your airways and make it harder for your lungs to function properly, making it harder to breathe. If you have asthma you’re especially sensitive to these changes in temperature so may have a particularly strong reaction to it, such as severe breathlessness or even an asthma attack,’ says ZoomDoc GP Dr Sohini Kar.


Fortunately, UK asthma charity, Asthma + Lung says ‘your asthma is less likely to be triggered by cold weather if it’s well controlled.’


With that in mind, here are some effective ways to help your asthma this winter and hopefully avoid having an asthma attack.


  • Be prepared


Asthma is a common lung condition that causes occasional breathing difficulties and it affects people of all ages.


Controlling your asthma is key so make sure you follow your own personal asthma action plan and use or take your prescribed medication (inhalers, tablets, steroids) regularly and correctly. This is vital for staying on top of it during the winter months.


If your child has asthma, Asthma+Lung recommends giving their ‘school a named spare reliever inhaler and spacer for your child to use if their asthma symptoms come on at playtime or during PE.’


  • See your doctor


If you have typical asthma symptoms, your GP will support you to reach a diagnosis of asthma and provide you with a treatment plan.


If you haven’t seen your GP recently about your asthma, the NHS advises visiting ‘a doctor or asthma nurse at least once a year for a check-up and to discuss your treatment.’


If you’ve seen your doctor recently but your asthma symptoms get worse, ‘make an urgent appointment to see a GP or asthma nurse,’ it adds.


Struggling to get an appointment? ZoomDoc GPs can help with asthma medication advice and prescriptions via video call. SImply download our app and arrange an appointment to suit you for just £35.


  • Have your flu jab


Flu vaccination is safe and effective. It’s offered every year through the NHS to help protect people at risk of getting seriously ill from flu.


According to Asthma+Lung, 75% of people with asthma say their symptoms get worse when they have a cold or the flu. It also increases your risk of an asthma attack.


That’s why some asthma sufferers are eligible for a free flu jab every winter. Have yours as soon as possible so that you’re fully protected by the time flu season takes hold. If you’re severely asthmatic, talk to your doctor as it may not be recommended.


Children with asthma will be given the vaccine as a nasal spray. However, if they’re particularly wheezy they may need to have it in injection form instead.


Read more about who really needs the flu jab this winter.


  • Keep warm and dry


Keeping yourself warm helps reduce your risk of asthma flares. It’s wise to bundle up based on outside temperatures.


Asthma experts recommend keeping warm and arming yourself with cold or wet weather gear when you’re out, for example always having a scarf, hat and umbrella with you. 


Breathing into a scarf wrapped around your nose and mouth will help keep your breath warm and therefore less of an irritant to your lungs. 


  • Avoid your triggers


Asthma symptoms can have a range of triggers, such as: respiratory tract infections – particularly infections affecting the upper airways.


As well as cold weather and viruses (already mentioned) other triggers can include:


  • cigarette smoke
  • pets or animals
  • allergens such as dust or mould
  • medicines, such as aspirin and ibuprofen
  • rigorous exercise.


If you do know what triggers yours, avoiding it or them can be a huge help in controlling symptoms.


If you or your child have severe asthma triggered by something specific or any severe allergy, it’s worth carrying a medical certificate confirming this.


ZoomDoc can provide you with a same-day medical certificate detailing the exact allergen, the signs of the allergic reaction, what you need to avoid, plus the medications you require to have on standby. No appointment is needed – simply apply online here.


What to do if you’re having an asthma attack


If you think you’re having an asthma attack, you should: Sit up straight – try to keep calm. Take one puff of your reliever inhaler.


If you (or someone with you) have an attack, follow this NHS advice and don’t be afraid to call 999 in an emergency:


  1. Sit up straight – try to keep calm.
  2. Take one puff of your reliever inhaler (usually blue) every 30 to 60 seconds up to 10 puffs.
  3. If you feel worse at any point, or you do not feel better after 10 puffs, call 999 for an ambulance.
  4. If the ambulance has not arrived after 10 minutes and your symptoms are not improving, repeat step 2.
  5. If your symptoms are no better after repeating step 2, and the ambulance has still not arrived, contact 999 again immediately.


Want to know more?

Our team of Doctors are available via the ZoomDoc App for any medical questions or queries.