Keep asthma under control as temperatures drop - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Keep asthma under control as temperatures drop

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Most of us associate asthma with spring time and outdoor allergies, but this time of year can be troublesome, too. Asthma specialists say attacks can be prevented as temperatures get colder. It's about managing the triggers and staying on prescribed medications.

"Cold air, when it goes into the airway, the airway has to re-warm that cold air and as it does so it can cause spasms of the lungs or of the airway," explains Dr. Lee Perry of the Chattanooga Allergy Clinic.

Perry says this can lead to shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, and coughing.

Stephanie Hughes, a nurse at the clinic, has had asthma since childhood and knows the feeling all too well.

"My chest feels a lot tighter. I can feel when I breathe in, the cold air hurts my lungs a little worse," says Hughes.

Dr. Perry says if you like to keep in shape then exercising indoors helps.

But cold weather isn't the only trigger. Perry says infections are the leading cause of asthma problems in autumn mainly because children are back in school and exposed to viruses. Because their asthma may have improved over the summer parents, are drawn into a false sense of security, often taking kids off their prescribed medications. Perry doesn't recommended this.

"They're not on their medications, they're not ready for what's about to occur, and it leaves them more susceptible to an asthma attack," adds Perry.

One of Hughes' sons has acute asthma. So as the doctor orders, she keeps him on his treatment plan year-round.

"If he's not on those medicines I can tell a difference in probably about four days," says Hughes.

As we're stuck inside more often during through the winter, a cleaner home environment can reduce the risk of asthma attacks, especially by reducing exposure to dust mites and pet dander in our bedding.

"Keeping the pets out of the bedrooms," suggests Perry. "Washing your sheets in hot water once a week."

If after following the previous advice you still have problems, Perry says to visit your asthma specialist immediately.

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