Any parent who has a child with asthma knows how hard the winter months can be. The cold air, dry air, and all the things that come with winter can trigger asthma attacks and make breathing difficult, even with the right medication to control symptoms. There are ways to help your child with asthma survive the winter months, though, so you dont have to dread them quite as much. Here are eight tips to help your child with asthma survive the winter months.
1) Keep your home warm but dont overheat.
During cold winter months, its important to keep your home at a comfortable temperature, but you shouldnt overheat. If you use air conditioning often, consider investing in whole-house fans that bring cooler air from outside into your home. You can also try an energy efficient heat pump that provides both heating and cooling by transferring heat from one area (your basement or garage) and releasing it into another (your living space). The good news is that most newer models are more energy efficient than older versions of these systems.
2) Keep daily routines as normal as possible.
The difference between having asthma and not having asthma isnt always easy for children, especially younger ones, to handle. A child with asthma is more prone to infections, but they can still get sick with a cold or another condition that doesnt involve their lungs. To avoid causing unnecessary stress on your child or their lungs when theyre sick, keep up daily routines as normal as possible. This can help prevent an attack by keeping their symptoms in checkand will help them feel like theres nothing wrong if they miss a few days of school or soccer practice due to illness.
3) Avoid tobacco smoke.
If you smoke or are around people who do, that means your child is exposed to secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke is toxic and has been known to aggravate asthma symptoms. You can help keep your child safe by quitting smoking completely or not smoking in your home, car or around them. The best gift you can give them is a healthy childhood. And if you dont smoke, its important to know how tobacco smoke affects children with asthma so you can talk to other parents about it. Children with asthma should avoid tobacco smoke at all costs. It could cause an attack or make their condition worse when they’re already sick. Even if someone else smokes in your house, ask them not to do it when your child is there because secondhand smoke lingers for hours after someone lights up.
4) Use an inhaler correctly.
If youre going outside and know your asthma is active, be sure to take your inhaler with you. Be sure you are using it correctly, too: Put one puff in (the doctors recommend only using a half of a puff). Youll feel better within three minutes. If it doesnt work for you, repeat that process two more times. If it still doesnt work, seek medical help immediately. Inhalers can make asthma worse if used incorrectly or when not needed. Its also important to note that children should always use an adult-sized inhalernever use a child-sized device. It wont deliver enough medication into their lungs.
5) Go easy on exercise and physical activity.
While asthma triggers vary from person to person, many people with asthma find that they do best when they avoid physical activity during asthmatic episodes. Obviously, parents dont want their kids sitting around all day. But if your childs asthma is worse during certain times of yearlike winterit might be best for her to take it easy for a few days or until she feels better. Limit time outside: The air is often colder and drier in winter months and can make asthma symptoms even worse.
6) Check your child often for cold symptoms.
Getting a flu shot each year isnt just a smart way to ward off sicknessit can also help prevent your asthma from getting worse. You see, people with asthma are more susceptible to catching respiratory infections, like a cold or flu. And for people with severe asthma, one of these viruses can quickly trigger an attack that leaves them gasping for breath and feeling as if theyre going to die. By getting vaccinated against influenza before fall rolls around, you reduce your chances of getting sick during peak virus seasonand being hospitalized for it.
7) Have an asthma plan in place.
During flu season, we make sure our kids get their annual vaccines. During cold and allergy season, we stock up on tissues and load up on antihistamines. But when it comes to asthma flare-ups, most of us think twice before doing anything. That’s a mistake, experts say: Research shows that having an asthma action plan in place can reduce your child’s risk of serious asthma attacks by 50 percent. Having a plan means you know what steps to take if your child starts wheezing or has trouble breathing. It also means you’ll be more likely to seek medical attention early if neededand that could mean fewer hospital visits overall. To help you create one, we’ve put together a guide with eight steps you can take right now. Read on for more information about how to deal with asthma during winter months and tips for creating an asthma action plan for your family.
8) Get a flu shot.
Going into flu season with a clean bill of health is importantbut you should also make sure your family gets vaccinated against influenza. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone six months or older get an annual flu shot, but its particularly important for people with asthma and other respiratory issues. Immunization decreases your chance of getting sick and spreading germs to others; if you do get sick, it can shorten the length of illness by three days, which is valuable in terms of missed work time and taking care of kids who cant go to school. Consider talking to your doctor about getting a high-dose vaccine if you have moderate or severe asthma.