“Respiratory illnesses are leading causes of asthma flare-ups in winter,” said Dr. Mark Huftel, a Marshfield Clinic allergist. “Each one of us can prevent asthma flare-ups by taking necessary precautions.”
Even if you don’t have asthma…
1. Get your flu vaccination.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone six months of age and older get their flu vaccination.
Visit any Marshfield Clinic primary care location to get your flu shot. No appointment necessary.
“If an influenza outbreak occurs, and you show true signs of influenza like fevers, muscle aches and cough, contact your doctor immediately if you have asthma,” Huftel said. “We can use an anti-viral medicine to treat influenza if it’s caught in the first 48 hours.”
2. Update your pneumonia vaccination.
Typically, young children and adults over the age of 65 should get the pneumococcal vaccine, Huftel said. However, anyone can get pneumonia.
If you’re between the ages of 19 and 64 and have asthma or smoke, talk to your provider about getting the pneumonia vaccine.
3. Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly.
“It’s always important to wash your hands regularly. Additionally, avoid touching your t-zone. This can help you keep germs out of your eyes, nose and mouth,” Huftel said.
And if you do have asthma…
4. Pre-medicate 15 minutes.
As you would with other exercise, use your inhaler 15 minutes before you go outside when it’s cold, or if you’ll be skiing, snowboarding or playing in the snow.
5. Wear a scarf or mask.
“Wearing a scarf allows the air to be warmed before it hits your airways and lungs,” Huftel said.
Parents, be sure to send with your kids a scarf or mask for recess at school as the weather cools. Revisit the importance of having their inhaler on hand.