Dec 17, 2015, 12:00:00 AM CST Nov 20, 2023, 10:56:41 AM CST

Managing your child's asthma in the winter

Learn how to control asthma in cold weather

Boy outdoors blowing nose on winter day Boy outdoors blowing nose on winter day

Have you ever wondered why cold weather can trigger asthma? It is because cold air causes the muscles surrounding the airways to contract, making the airways narrow. For kids with asthma, this can make it harder to breathe and make them more likely to have an asthma attack. Other health conditions like the flu and respiratory infections are more common during colder months, and those illnesses can make asthma symptoms worse.

If your child has asthma, you can take steps to keep them healthy all winter long.

Asthma management tips for winter

Move physical activity indoors

When the air outside is cold and dry, encourage kids to do indoor exercises and activities. See more tips for managing asthma during physical activity here.

Maintain your home heating system

The heater in your home goes unused for months at a time. The filters may contain dust, mold and other asthma triggers. Be sure to replace the filter to prevent blowing those triggers all over your home.

Monitor your home temperature and humidity

Changes in temperature and humidity can trigger asthma. Talk to your child's doctor about using a humidifier to keep the humidity between 30 and 45%. That is high enough to make breathing easier but low enough not to encourage asthma-triggering mold and mildew growth.

Try to avoid illness

People are more likely to develop the flu, sinus infections and upper respiratory infections during the winter, all of which can make asthma worse. Do your best to limit your family's exposure to people who might pass along harmful germs and encourage your family to wash their hands frequently.

Get flu and COVID‑19 shots

Since many people experience worse asthma symptoms when they have a cold, getting appropriate vaccines to help prevent common viruses can help your child stay healthy during the winter. Make sure your child is up-to-date on their flu and COVID‑19 vaccines.

Avoid fire

Smoke of any kind can trigger asthma. Avoid using wood-burning stoves or fireplaces to help reduce your child’s asthma symptoms. If children with asthma must be in a room with a fire, they should sit as far away from the fire as possible.

Use that nose

Your nose warms up air for your lungs, so encourage your child with asthma to breathe through their nose. Wearing a scarf or mask on the face will also help to warm and humidify winter air.

Reduce seasonal triggers

All those holiday decorations from the attic may be covered in dust, so clean them thoroughly with warm, soapy water. Throw away any decorations that have signs of mold, mildew or contact with pests.

Follow your child's Asthma Action Plan

During the winter, it is especially important to follow your child's Asthma Action Plan. Talk to your child's doctor about whether your child should take a dose of maintenance medication before heading outside into the cold. Share any changes to the Action Plan with everyone who participates in your child’s care, including teachers, babysitters and extended family members.

Learn more

Get expert help managing your child's asthma through Children's Health℠ asthma programs.

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