Asthma in the Cold – Tips for You and Your Child

Cold weather is a major trigger for asthma symptoms. Here are five tips for keeping asthma at bay as the winter temperatures plummet.

Asthma isn't temporaryCold weather can have a serious impact on the 5.4 million people with asthma in the UK. According to Asthma UK, three quarters of people with asthma say that cold air is a trigger for their symptoms and 90% reckon that having a cold or flu makes their asthma considerably worse.

Cher Piddock, a nurse for Asthma UK, says: “Hospital admissions for asthma traditionally peak during periods of particularly cold weather. This can be due to breathing cold air into the lungs, which can in turn trigger asthma, as well as picking up colds and flu.

“People whose asthma is well-controlled are more likely to be able to withstand the risks of winter months. You can help keep your asthma under control by making sure you have a regular asthma review with your doctor or asthma nurse and that you have a personal asthma action plan.”

Five Tips for Preventing Cold Weather Asthma Symptoms

Asthma UK has this advice on how to control your asthma symptoms during the cold weather:

  1. Keep taking your regular preventer medicines as prescribed by your doctor. (*”long-acting bronchodilators”)
  2. If you know that cold air triggers your asthma, take one or two puffs of your reliever inhaler (*”rescue” or “short-acting” inhaler) before going outside.
  3. Keep your blue reliever inhaler with you at all times.
  4. Wrap up well and wear a scarf over your nose and mouth – this will help to warm up the air before you breathe it in.
  5. Take extra care when exercising in cold weather. Warm up for 10-15 minutes and take one or two puffs of your reliever inhaler before you start.

Asthma Attacks in Winter

With the onset of very cold weather, it’s a good idea to make sure you and your friends and family know what to do if you have an asthma attack.

The key signs are:

  • Coughing more than usual
  • Getting short of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Feeling a tightness in your chest
  • Having difficulty speaking in full sentences

Read more about what to do in an asthma attack.

You can find more information on this website about managing asthma. If you have queries about any aspect of asthma, you can also call the Asthma UK free telephone helpline staffed by asthma nurse specialists, on 0800 121 6244.

*Asthma resources in the US:

Editor’s Note: *clarification provided for our US readers.
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About the Author

NHS Choices ( is the UK’s biggest health website. It provides a comprehensive health information service to help put you in control of your healthcare.


3 Responses to “Asthma in the Cold – Tips for You and Your Child”

  1. Vivian Black says:

    It’s a good point that you should take extra care when exercising in bad weather. My brother has asthma, and I agree it’s good for family and friends to know of key signs of an asthma attack. The tip to wrap up well in a scarf is also good to remember.

  2. Silas Knight says:

    I didn’t know that cold weather can trigger asthma. My son might have asthma, so I need to know how to help him. I will make sure to bundle him up with a hat, scarf and face shield to give him warm air to breath!

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