How to Keep Your Child’s Asthma Under Control When Playing Outside This Winter

Knowing your kid's triggers can help you plan accordingly

child with large scarf playing in snow

Many kids can’t wait for the chance to head outside to build a snowman, construct the biggest snow fort ever, or go sledding. But allergist Sandra Hong, MD, says it’s important for parents to realize that the cold winter air can trigger their child’s asthma symptoms.

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“When they go out into the cold air, it causes their airways to kind of tighten down a little bit,” she explains. “This will make them feel tight in their chest and short of breath.”

A little protection goes a long way

But, Dr. Hong says the cold shouldn’t keep kids indoors all season, as long as they are wearing appropriate protection.

Make sure that they’re wearing scarfs, or make sure they’re wearing something that covers the mouth so that the air is warmed up as it goes into the chest.

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It’s important for parents to know what their child’s triggers are, Dr. Hong says, so that they can plan accordingly.

“If the kids are going to go sledding or they’re going to be running outside, you can actually give them their rescue inhaler 15 minutes before they go out, in addition to making sure that they’re wearing a scarf and staying warm,” she recommends.

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It’s not just the outdoors

Besides outdoor triggers, Dr. Hong says the winter months can also increase indoor triggers such as dust mites, mold and pet allergens.

Limiting time around pets, washing linens in hot water and regular vacuuming can help cut down on indoor asthma triggers.

And don’t forget their flu shot!

Wintertime is also the height of cold and flu season, both of which can trigger asthma symptoms. So it’s important for kids to get their flu vaccines, as well as practice good hand hygiene at all times.

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