What Scares Me Most About This Coming Winter

What Scares Me Most About This Coming Winter

I have controlled asthma for the most part. Symptoms, I feel, are generally mild and easily controlled. The one exception is when I get a lung infection. Respiratory viruses literally knock the wind out of me. That’s what I worry about with winter looming ahead.

Winter colds hit me hard.

Sure, you can get a cold any time of year. But, you are most likely to catch one in the winter months. I think this is because we are all snuggled in nice warm houses. We have all the windows shut. This makes for poorly ventilated rooms. Kids go to school. They pick up germs from other kids. They come home and share these germs. So, our warm homes are like incubators for germs. They grow. They spread.

Usually, the kids get sick before I do. They get sniffles and sneezes. They might wheeze. They might feel short of breath and require a breathing treatment. And they’re usually feeling better by the time I catch the cold.

I will tell you something: they hit me far harder than they hit my kids. My wife used to make fun of me when I got sick. “You’re being such a baby.” But, there are actually studies showing that respiratory viruses hit asthmatics harder than non-asthmatics. I wrote about this in my post, “Impact of Viruses On Asthmatics.”

They literally wipe me out.

Cold air doesn’t help

Cold air, for the most part, doesn’t bother my asthma. It used to. Back in the day when I had uncontrolled asthma it surely did. I remember going sledding in the hills behind my parent’s house. I’d go up and down the hills several times, just like my brothers; just like a normal kid. Then my asthma would hit. I’d have a lot of secretions that would seem to tickle my airways. I’d feel chest tightness and severe shortness of breath. Then I’d have to walk home. I’d do so using the sled as a crutch. That’s what you call fun turned into torture. And to think I did this more than once shows how tough I was.

But I digress. Cold air doesn’t bother me like that anymore. Last winter I shoveled my driveway when needed. But, usually, when I’m done, I’m done. I often think how nice it would be for me to shovel out the nice old lady next door. But, I simply can’t do it. Not with these asthmatic lungs. I’m usually spent by the time I’m done clearing snow from my own driveway.

For the most part, though, shoveling snow is good exercise. But, when you’re an asthmatic with a bad cold, not good. Give me a cold, and I can’t shovel the driveway. Last year was a bad winter. We had so much snow I couldn’t keep up with shoveling the driveway. And try doing this when you have a bad cold with asthma. No fun indeed.

One day I decided to just drive to work fast through the snow. That did not work out good at all. I got stuck in my driveway. It was too early to wake up the guy next door. So, after struggling mightily to get my car unstuck, I ended up breaking down and calling AAA. They sent for a tow truck (Note: roadside assistance is worth every penny). I was an hour late for work.

So, fast forward to the next day. It continued snowing the past 24 hours. My driveway is covered with a foot of snow, if not more. My car is in the garage. I got stuck the day earlier. Not going to risk it again. There was no way I was going to back out of the garage without first shoveling. Sad! It was thick, wet snow. It was heavy and hard to shovel. It was a nightmare.

Literally, if you were watching, you would think I had old-man’s lungs. I’d shovel fast and furious for 30 seconds. Then I’d get severely dyspneic and have to rest five minutes to catch my breath. No fun. Somehow I made it to work on time. My breathing was feeling better by the time I got to work. But, still, you have the after effects of an attack. You feel chest soreness and exhaustion.

How do I prepare for this?

There’s not much more I can do to control my asthma. It’s as controlled as it will be given the medicines available today. And, I’m happy with my good control. I can do most of what I want to do — except shovel a driveway with a cold. So, in case it snows like it did last year, I got myself a nice snowblower for this winter. And, if Murphy’s Law holds true, we’ll probably have a light snowfall this winter. If the snow gets out of control, I might have to hire a neighbor kid to shovel snow. Or, worst-case scenario, hire someone to plow my small thumbnail of a driveway. I’ll keep you posted.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Asthma.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (8)
  • sharonkf
    4 days ago

    The respiratory viruses get me too. I also suffer from chronic ear and sinus infection due to “the thickest mucus” my doctor has ever seen. (I told him it’s good to be the best at something.) My question is when I start getting a cold (I just lost my voice) should I rush to the doctor or do all the things (lots of liquids, rest, hot tea, gargle with salt water, etc) that are good for me and wait and see?

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    4 days ago

    Hi sharonkf and thanks for your post. While we cannot provide medical advice or diagnostics over the internet (for your own safety), your concern certainly warrants a reply. You are the best judge of how you feel when you have a cold coming on. Is there a fever? Are your asthma symptoms prevalent? How is the cold affecting your chronic ear and sinus infection? When possible, it’s always an advantage if you find the home remedies (liquids, rest, hot tea, gargling, etc) are helping your symptoms. But, if you find any of your symptoms are persisting or getting worse, that may be the time for you to reach out for your physician. I hope this brief reply provided you with some additional insight for your concern. Wishing you well, Leon (site moderator)

  • WheezyMe
    2 weeks ago

    Hey John, I see you there. My asthma is active mainly during winter. For me it’s both the cold air (especially dry, cold winds) and viruses.
    At first, when my asthma returned several years ago, I used to hate winter. Next, I looked at it as something I should brace myself for, like having a deep breath before a dive, until winter is over. Now I don’t hate it anymore. There are some advantages… Just hope asthma will behave itself:) I wish you a safe, warm winter!

  • John Bottrell, RRT moderator author
    2 weeks ago

    Thanks. And the same to you. Hopefully we have a light winter like we had a few years ago. I remember it was 50 degrees in January and I was able to go outside for a run. That would be nice, hey? John. Site Moderator.

  • Shellzoo
    2 weeks ago

    I live within reach of Lake Michigans’s Lake Effect snowbands. There are no snowdays for healthcare workers so I pay to have my driveway plowed. I have lots of trouble shoveling snow and cold weather is a big trigger. I just started wheezing a little after walking my dog and might take a little albuterol in a few minutes if it does not settle down. Seriously though, I gladly pay for snow plowing for the winter. It is a joy to watch from the living room window as the driveway is cleared and after the 10 inches of beautiful snow a couple days ago, I never was happier to be able to drive into the garage without getting stuck in the driveway.

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    2 weeks ago

    Hi Shellzoo and thanks for your post. You say that after walking your dog (in the cold) you started to wheeze and may take some albuterol in a few minutes. Do you or have you thought of shielding your upper airway (nose and mouth) from the cold weather? If so, that might help to protect your airways from the cold triggers. It’s a thought! Leon (site moderator)

  • krishwaecosse
    2 weeks ago

    I think I’d be hiring a local kid to do it if I was you…not sure on their going rates though. Good luck for winter .

  • John Bottrell, RRT moderator author
    2 weeks ago

    I like that idea. The problem is it’s usually 6 a.m. when I need the shoveling done.

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