If you have a respiratory illness, such as COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder) or asthma, then the cold air that accompanies the change in season might affect you when you venture outdoors.

Respiratory consultant Dr Mat Jones at Nevill Hall hospital says, “Patients with airway diseases, particularly asthma often have hyper-responsive airways which are susceptible to the cold. In response to cold weather they can bronchoconstrict excessively (constriction of the airways in the lungs) which can then trigger an exacerbation of their condition.”

Respiratory illness in cold weather

“Patients with chronic lung disease have an increased susceptibility to infections of the lung given the structural changes in their lungs. This, accompanied by the frequency of infective organisms in the community in winter months would explain this trend of cold weather having an adverse effect on the lungs.”

The colder and drier air that we experience over the winter months, will have sufferers of asthma and COPD feeling breathless, tight-chested and with a wheeze and cough.

Although you may feel like staying in the warm and not venturing out, there are a few things you can do to make you feel more comfortable when you do have to venture outdoors.

5 handy tips to help prevent respiratory illness over winter

To help prevent your respiratory problems from worsening in the cold weather, the British Lung Foundation suggest you:

  1. Wash your hands regularly to avoid picking up winter bugs.
  2. Wrap up warm when heading outdoors. Cover your nose and mouth with a scarf to warm up the air before you breathe it in.
  3. Keep your home well ventilated. Air quality inside the home becomes more important in winter as most of us spend more time indoors. If you have a bronchodilator, use it half an hour before going outside.
  4. Make sure you carry your medication with you at all times. The cold winter air can tighten the airways in lung disease patients, making it harder to breathe.
  5. Try to breathe through your nose instead of your mouth, as this will help warm the air.

You can also warm-up your breathing muscles with your POWERbreathe breathing muscle training device. In fact a POWERbreathe inspiratory warm-up is used by athletes to warm-up their breathing muscles prior to competition.

Warm-up your breathing muscles

You warm up other muscles prior to exercise, so why not your breathing muscles? Physical activity at a moderate intensity is widely accepted as an effective means of warming-up your body so that it’s ready to work at an intense level. But this moderate intensity activity is not enough to warm-up your breathing muscles. However, POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training is scientifically proven to target your breathing muscles.

POWERbreathe IMT is a breathing muscle training device that uses the principles of resistance training to exercise your breathing muscles, making them work harder. This exercise in turn makes your breathing muscles stronger and less prone to fatigue. And because POWERbreathe is drug-free, it can be used by those with a respiratory illness, such as asthma and COPD. Because it has no side effects or drug interactions, it can be used alongside your regular medication.

Cold weather can exacerbate respiratory conditions

Cold weather can often exacerbate respiratory conditions. If you notice you’re getting more chest problems in the winter, it could be an early warning sign. These symptoms may include becoming breathless easily, wheezing or having a persistent cough. It is really worth going to see your doctor at this point. The reason being, the earlier you receive a diagnosis, the earlier symptoms can be treated. As a result, this quick management of symptoms will have short and long-term benefits.