Oh Hey, Winter Asthma
Last updated: December 2019
Oh hey, winter. I did not miss you.
It is only December. This either means Winnipeg will have a very long winter (given it began snowing here in October), or winter will, with any luck, disappear again before long (though not according to this guy).
It's getting colder
We had our first truly cold-ish day in Winnipeg in November, at -8ºC (which is about -18ºF), though with the wind chill it felt like -15ºC. (Also, do y’all see that? Thanks to the magic of Facebook, I finally learned how to make the degrees symbol on my Mac and iOS devices and have thusly stopped using the asterisk for this purpose!)
I joyfully threw my new bright yellow winter jacket on, foregoing a hat, mittens or a scarf because, look, it’s not that cold yet. Well, except maybe for my lungs.
Winter is my worst asthma season—I first had asthma symptoms in mid-February of 2008. Last year was the first year since I added to my cocktail of medicines, that I had a fairly reasonable winter for my asthma. The cold, dry air and my lungs are not friends, and that’s just the way it is.
What’s my tipping point?
I’m always curious just what my tipping point is, asthma-wise. I spent very little time actually outside today, so be it the actual cold or the rapid swings between warm house/cold air/not-freezing bus/cold air/warm mall/cold air/warm restaurant/cold air/warm vehicle/cold air I’m not sure, but I do know within an hour of getting home I was short of breath and reaching for my inhaler. In a way, that was pretty darn typical for winter.
So, another quantified self-investigation may be in order.
Dealing with the cold air
Today, I treated my dyspnea with a quick nebulizer treatment, just half of a nebule—I’d have honestly just used my inhaler but the FedEx guy dropped off a new nebulizer for me today, so of course I wanted to try it out!
Pre-medicating is usually the best bet for me for prolonged cold air exposure (which certainly wasn’t quite the issue today!), along with covering my nose and mouth with a scarf or face mask, and I suppose I’ll have to get into the groove of dressing properly for the weather again, especially where it comes to my asthma.
Be prepared for winter asthma!
And of course, when I’m outside, I always keep my inhaler close by, and try to remember to shift it to a pocket that’s under my jacket so it stays warm to avoid any problems that might occur in the below 15ºC low-temperature limit noted on the canister.
The easiest way to deal with the cold air, of course, is to just stay inside. But alas, sometimes one must go out. In my world, I’m very lucky that I work from home, so leaving is usually rather optional. Well, except on a day like today where there was buy-one-get-one free pizza to be had. Then obviously the pizza won. Also because it was not that cold*, despite my friend texting us a picture of her bundled up with her hood up and scarf on, and her sister and I hassling her until she took it off.
I suppose my lungs might have appreciated that scarf!
*Yes, we Winnipeggers hassle each other that way, being colder than Mars and whatnot. By the way, while not terribly cold then, we already had a wicked storm whip through Manitoba in mid-October. Check out the video of the guy rollerblading through the snow with a Slurpee. #likeyoudo, Winnipeg, like you do...
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