Dec 17, 2015, 12:00:00 AM CST Dec 7, 2020, 2:14:49 PM CST

Managing your child's asthma in the winter

Learn how to get ahead of asthma during the winter months

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 that surround the airways to contract, making the airways narrow. For kids with asthma, that constriction can make breathing more difficult and make asthma attacks more likely. In addition, 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 him or her healthy all winter long.

Asthma management tips for winter

Move physical activity indoors

When the air outside is cold and dry, encourage kids to play games inside. 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 on their own, while cold, dry air may also be a trigger. Talk to your child's doctor about using a humidifier to keep the humidity between 30 and 45 percent. That is high enough to make breathing easier, but low enough not to encourage growth of asthma triggering mold and mildew.

Stay away from illness

Along with the flu, people are more likely to develop sinus and upper respiratory infections during the winter, both of which can exacerbate asthma. 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 family flu shots

Having asthma does not make your child more susceptible to the flu but getting the flu can make asthma symptoms worse. Try to prevent this by getting a flu shot.

Avoid fire

Smoke of any kind can trigger asthma, and it can also travel through your home. Don't use wood-burning stoves or fireplaces. 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.

Learn more

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

Sign Up

Stay current on the health insights that make a difference to your children. Sign up for the Children's Health newsletter and have more tips sent directly to your inbox.

asthma, breathing, physical fitness, flu, flu shot, Health and Wellness Alliance, physician advice, respiratory, treatment, weather

Childrens Health