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Understanding And Managing Asthma In Children During Winter

For many, especially those with chronic lung conditions, the association of cold air with dryness can lead to significant challenges.

Understanding And Managing Asthma In Children During Winter

The prevalence of colds and flu viruses during winter makes the inflammation worse

Spanning from November to February, cold winds, dry air and smog sweep across the northern plains of India introducing a host of challenges particularly for young ones living with chronic respiratory conditions such as asthma. In addition to the typical seasonal risks of viruses and infections, the winter months pose an additional risk of exacerbated symptoms, leading to higher chances of hospitalization. Therefore, with this winter proving to be particularly challenging with cold waves and temperatures plummeting to as low as 3.6 degrees, it's important to prioritize proactive measures especially for those with respiratory vulnerabilities.

The impact of cold weather ,

For many, especially those with chronic lung conditions, the association of cold air with dryness can lead to significant challenges. Dry air tends to irritate the airways, with the impact of cold weather extending beyond mere discomfort; it affects the inner layer of your respiratory system and makes your airways more sensitive.

Think of your bronchial tubes (in your lungs) like branches on a tree that carry air in and out of your lungs. In kids with asthma, these tubes stay narrow due to ongoing inflammation, making it hard for air to flow smoothly. Cold, dry air makes this worse, causing the muscles inside the tubes to tighten and struggle to stay open, leading to noticeable symptoms like wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing, and chest tightness.

Additionally, the prevalence of colds and flu viruses during winter makes the inflammation worse, thickening mucus in the tubes and making it even harder to breathe. Staying indoors when it's cold exposes you to indoor stuff like dust or pet dander, possibly making asthma symptoms worse. Understanding these winter triggers is crucial for those dealing with respiratory issues to handle the season better and stay healthier.

Tips for asthma management during winter

While it is crucial for parents to stay vigilant in winters, identify potential triggers and closely observe their child's symptoms, there are a few fundamental measures that can be undertaken to ensure your little one is healthy and happy during this winter season.

1. Asthma Action Plan: a written action plan should be created in consultation with a doctor. This will help record and monitor the time, duration and circumstances of an asthma attack, any changes in symptoms or activity levels, any side effects to the medications and the overall response to treatment . Based on this, treatment can be adjusted.

2. Treatment adherence: Inhalation therapy has been widely recognized as the cornerstone of asthma management. It is crucial for parents to consult a doctor to identify and understand the best therapy regime suited for their child.

3. Annual Vaccination: Contracting the seasonal flu can worsen the respiratory difficulties in children. To safeguard them, it is advisable to ensure they receive their yearly flu vaccinations, as this practice can enhance their overall quality of life .

4. Maintaining Air Quality: Using air purifiers at home can help minimize indoor allergens, creating a healthier respiratory environment for children with asthma. Additionally, regular cleaning and proper ventilation contribute to maintaining good indoor air quality .

5. Hygiene Practices: Emphasizing good hygiene practices, such as regular handwashing, can reduce the risk of respiratory infections. Teaching children to keep hands clean and avoid touching their face helps prevent the spread of germs that could trigger asthma symptoms .

6. Lifestyle Modifications: During the winter season, make sure your child follows a healthy diet packed with fruits, vegetables, and immune-boosting foods. Encourage them to stay well-hydrated to support optimal functioning of their respiratory system.

(Dr. Pramod N. Bagul, Consulting Newborn & Child Specialist)

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