Asthma Season: 4 Steps to Improve Asthma Control

The peak time for asthma symptoms in northern Utah is usually late December thru mid-February.  That’s because three things in winter can worsen asthma:

1. Cold, dry air

2. Poor air quality (an inversion)

3. Viral infections

Since we have an abundance of these three things in Utah during the winter, right now tends to be the worst time of year for asthma.

If you have asthma, there are four things that you should be doing to keep asthma symptoms under control and potentially prevent asthma attacks:

Asthma Control Tip 1: Exercise indoors. I know, I know – running or walking on a treadmill is not nearly as enjoyable as running or walking outside.  However, aerobic exercise in the cold, winter air frequently brings on exercise-induced asthma in those who are at all susceptible to it.  This applies even more so if we have a winter inversion in place!  This last summer, I saw many patients who were having breathing problems because of the smoke in the air.  As bad as the smoke from forest fires was or can be, the trapped car exhaust and other pollutants in an inversion is usually worse.  Your lungs will thank you if you get a membership at the local gym and exercise inside until after Valentine’s Day. 

Asthma Control Tip 2: Make sure that you are taking any regular, preventive asthma medicines daily.  The best medicines for asthma are the daily, preventive ones. They all take a while to ‘kick in’ and have full effect.  Preventative asthma medications can eventually help if you want to wait and start using them daily at the first sign of problems, but they work best if you are already using them consistently before problems arise.  If your asthma prescriptions need refilling – now is the time to see your physician and get new ones.  If you are one of the ‘lucky’ patients with asthma who usually don’t have problems in the winter, at least make sure you have your asthma medications on hand – even if you aren’t using them regularly.  This includes the fast acting ‘rescue’ medicine albuterol.

Asthma Control Tip 3: See your doctor.  If it has been a while since you’ve seen your asthma doctor and had a physical exam and spirometry (pulmonary function tests) done, make an appointment. Many people with asthma are unaware of just how bad their asthma is until things get really bad.  If your asthma gets worse gradually, you may not notice that you’re doing worse, and what should be bothering you can feel like ‘normal’.  This is a very common problem in patients with asthma.  Being worse and unaware at the same time is more likely in the winter.  So, if it’s been a while since you were seen, call your asthma doctor and make an appointment.  Call today – right now!

Asthma Control Tip 4: Buy a condo in Hawaii and live there from December thru February!  Aloha! This way you get to experience a little snow here at the end of the year, and then come back just as the trees and flowers are starting to bloom.  Perfect.  Just in time to be seen for your spring allergies…..

Duane J. Harris M.D.
Intermountain Allergy & Asthma of Draper

New to Intermountain Allergy and Asthma?

If you suffer from asthma, now is a great time to consider starting professional asthma treatment.  Dr. Harris and Dr. Anderson accept new asthma patients of all ages and most insurance plans.  If you have questions about insurance coverage, please contact us Intermountain Allergy and Asthma at (801) 553-1900 (Dr. Harris) or (801) 476-0052 (Dr. Anderson) and we will be happy to assist you. 

If you don’t have health insurance, we offer a discount and monthly payment options. It is Dr. Harris’ and Anderson’s goal to provide the best medical treatment for their patients while working with patients to keep costs and payments reasonable. 

Thank you for allowing us Intermountain Allergy and Asthma to be part of your health care team – we look forward to seeing you!