Difficulty Breathing This Winter? Try These Tips!
There are many people who understand the difficulties of breathing in the winter. Approximately 1 in 12 people suffers from asthma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the numbers continue to climb every year. However, during the colder winter season, it isn’t just those with asthma who are struggling to breathe. Many of us will notice the effects of the colder temperatures on our breathing, as some temperatures can cause our airway passages to constrict.
For those who do have ailments that are prone to respiratory problems–asthma, COPD, anxiety, panic attacks–the issue is magnified. When the air is so cold, it holds onto pollution particles and heavier matter that makes it incredibly hard to inhale sufficient air. This kind of problem can be very scary and makes it incredibly hard to stay active outdoors.
While some would rather stay inside then risk the rough temperatures, spending time outdoors is important for things like a healthy immune system, an improved mood, stress relief, and improved mental health. If you’re struggling to catch a good breath, consider the following tips to improve your outdoor experience.
Increase Vitamin D
If you’re not getting enough vitamin D in your diet, you may be noticing that you struggle to breathe more frequently in the wintertime. Vitamin D can help to improve immune functions, and also reduces inflammation that builds up in our airways.
To improve your intake of vitamin D, consider increasing your daily exposure to natural sunlight. This could mean taking a simple walk, going for a hike, or participating in outdoor sports. You can also increase your intake by eating foods fortified with Vitamin D – orange juice, eggs, salmon, rice–or taking dietary supplements.
Exercise is a common solution to all kinds of issues related to the colder months, including depression, mobility problems, and concentration issues. For those individuals who have a harder time breathing in the colder months, exercising 2-3 times a week can help to reduce shortness of breath, improve stamina, and lower the number of hospitalizations due to respiratory problems.
Stamina becomes significantly lower when we spend too much time being stagnant indoors, so getting outside even for 30-minute walks each day can be beneficial to breathing and overall health.
For those individuals who struggle to get outdoors due to illness or mobility issues, in-home exercises are still a great way to stay healthy and strong. Consider installing home safety aids for seniors and those who need help getting around their home.
Avoid Wood-Burning Appliances
The colder months force a lot of us to stay indoors more often, so it’s important that the air inside is clean enough to breathe freely. With that being said, houses that have wood-burning stoves and fireplaces can make for a harder breathing environment. It’s best if you can install natural gas heat and electric stoves in your home, which won’t cause quite as much harm to your respiratory system. It has been said that these kinds of appliances can be as harmful as smoking, so it’s a good idea to check for these kinds of items before buying a home or staying over in one.
Clean Air Ducts
Dirty air ducts hold all kinds of debris that can make it back into the air and into your respiratory system. Things like hair, animal dander, and dust are common items that inflame our throats and stifle breathing, but a dirty filtration system or old air duct won’t be able to keep all of these things out of the air.
It is recommended that air duct inspections occur every 7-10 years, while replacing air filtration systems depends on the type of home you have and who lives in it. Homes without pets will need to replace them every 90 days, while homes with more than one pet and tenants with allergies should be replacing them every 20-45 days.
Keep Your Home Dry and Cool
Some of the other causes for difficulty breathing in the winter include mold and mites. A home that is warm with a lot of moisture is prone to these issues, so it’s important to get rid of them as soon as you can.
To do this, you’ll need to keep your home dry, and also as cool as possible. This doesn’t mean you have to turn off the heat, but it does mean turning on the fan during showers and letting some fresh air in every once in a while.
It’s nice to be able to enjoy the winter season, both when we’re out in the chilly weather or warm and cozy indoors. To get the most out of this time of the year, be sure to take proper precautions when it comes to your breathing difficulties.
Lots of exercise and vitamin D will help improve your immune system, and keeping your home clean can also have a big impact. Staying in someone else’s home? Try to avoid pets, and bring your own sheets to avoid fur and mites.
- Becky McDowell