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March has come in like a lion…cold and snowy. Just when we thought spring was around the corner, we still need our winter coats. I thought this would be a good time to remind you that this type of weather requires special precautions for asthma and sinus patients.

Severe cold weather makes asthma attacks more common. The frigid air can trigger bronchospasm in the airways and this can cause sudden onset of wheezing, coughing or shortness of breath. The following are helpful hints for those of you with:

  1. Use your inhaler before you go to work in the morning, and bring it with you so you can use it before you leave and go outside. Try and give yourself an hour from when you use your inhaler until you go outside. This gives your lungs a chance to be more open.
  2. When walking outside wear a scarf or muffler or a ski hat that covers your mouth. Inhaling cold air through your nose is ok (that’s the job of the nose to warm the air you breathe), but direct inhalation of cold air through the mouth can cause bronchospasm.
  3. Keep Hydrated: this protects your lungs. Soups, teas and other hot beverages not only hydrate you but also help lubricate the airway by stimulating secretions to loosen mucus.
Sinus Protection:
  1. Use over-the-counter saline nasal sprays, like Ayr (my favorite) to moisturize the nose and keep secretions loose.
  2. Try and avoid nasal steroid sprays on a regular basis because they can be drying and causes nose bleeds in the winter.
  3. Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air, so you don’t dry out your mucous membranes.

Please e-mail me with any questions and comments you have about the blog and issues you would like to cover.

Dr. Dean Mitchell
Mitchell Medical Group, NYC & Long Island