Winter breathing problems

Winter officially starts this week, and we can anticipate those dropping temperatures. While the cold and flu are spreading throughout the  area, there are many families that worry about simply catching their breaths.

This is because the cold and changing temperatures we generally see in Western Kentucky force families to prepare to cope with winter breathing problems.

Leslie Elder is a mother who knows the difficulty in managing her daughter’s asthma. She says sometimes she has to tend to her daughter’s breathing every four hours, “It’s really scary because you don’t know whether you’re going to have to rush her to the hospital.”

Elder says especially during the winter months her family is always prepared, carrying around the breathing apparatus her daughter needs, “It’s pretty intimidating, it’s big and heavy.”

Lourdes Physician Assistant Stacy Bromley says she sees more and more patients short of breath when the temperatures drop or when they change drastically. She says many times respiratory symptoms present with other conditions as well, “They may have a simple cold or a respiratory or even the flu and they’ll come in with difficulty breathing.”

Bromley says it’s important for all families to formulate a plan in the winter months, “Watch for wheezing difficulty breathing, on a young child they’ll see something like the skin between the ribs sucking in, they’ll see neck muscles straining.”

Winter causes breathing problems because of the extra work your body does to warm up the cold air you breath in. Bromley says if you breathe through your nose or wear a scarf over your mouth which will also help warm the cold air.

Elder says her daughter is forced to take it easy and can’t run as much with the rest of the kids, but she’s always prepared to help her daughter breathe easier, “I usually just put her up to my chest so she can get herself calmed back down with my breathing.”

If you or your child is diagnosed with asthma, one of the most important things you can do is prevention and continue taking any routine controller medication although families should be prepared in emergencies as well.

Additionally those with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD, also need to be aware of the temperatures and how it affects their breathing but to also quit smoking.

The flu can bring about asthma symptoms, so you’re reminded you still have time to get the flu shot.

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