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Friday, December 23, 2011

Cold weather as an asthma trigger

We went into the capitol city last night to look at Christmas lights, and Son #2 said, "What's with all the scarves?!" Since most men don't wear scarves, he was wondering why everyone else seemed to be. It was below freezing last night (but no snow yet, which is VERY odd for where we live.) But it was so cold that it could take your breath away. Literally.

Those people were smart, because they had a scarf wrapped over their nose and mouth to warm up the air before they breathed it in. Cold temperatures can be an asthma trigger for some people. In fact, some people are sensitive to anything cold, not just the outside air. I start coughing after eating yogurt, smoothies or ice cream. In fact, yesterday when I passed by our administrative assistant she said, "Are you okay?!" I was coughing because I had just eaten a yogurt. I was a little surprised that anyone would notice, I guess because I am so used to it to coughing immediately after eating yogurt, but I was fine.

With smoothies, I can usually have about two swallows of my drink before I start coughing. And with ice cream, I am fine as long as I have it on a cone so I have to eat it slowly. Eating ice cream with a spoon is too fast and makes me cough. Same thing with milk shakes- a couple of swallows and the cough starts.

Back to cold weather. If you are outside and you don't have a scarf, then what? I actually forgot my scarf last night-of all times to forget it! In a pinch, you can cup your hands over your mouth and breathe in (so you sound like Darth Vader from Star Wars) That can be enough to warm up the air so you don't have an asthma attack. If you happen to be wearing a turtle neck sweater, you can pull that up over your nose and mouth. Sometimes, I have put my elbow up over my nose and breathed into the crook in my arm to warm up the air. Do whatever you need to to warm up the air if cold temperatures are your asthma trigger.

Remember, everyone with asthma is different. Cold temperatures are one of my triggers, but it doesn't affect any of my kid's asthma.

The best thing to do is to know what your triggers are and how to avoid them. Now if I could just avoid all the crowds that come along with this time of year......

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