Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA)

Symptom Starters

1.My son is five and has mild asthma, but seems to cough more when out in the cold weather. Can cold air set off asthma symptoms?
Yes, breathing cold air into raw and irritated airways can cause the muscles that wrap around the airways to tighten and get twitchy. That’s known as bronchospasm but you hear it as a cough.

Check your son’s written asthma action plan or with your medical care provider for instructions about possible adjustments to the treatment plan. When you know your son is going to be outside for a longer period of time such as playing in the snow, sledding or other outdoor sport, wrap a scarf or neck warmer over your son’s mouth and nose and as always, make certain he carries (zipped in an inside pocket preferably) and knows how to use his inhaled bronchodilator (it relaxes twitchy airways) such as albuterol, Maxair, Proventil HFA, ProAir HFA, Ventolin HFA or Xopenex HFA in case the coughing spasms worsen.

2.Can windy weather cause an asthma attack?
Dry windy days can wreak havoc for people with allergies to pollens, mold, and dust.

3.I am 36 years old and have never been asthmatic. I recently moved to a new apartment and have developed all the symptoms (coughing, shortness of breath, chest tightness). I have cleaned the house completely and we have no carpets. What else can I do besides move?
When symptoms coincide with events such as a move, there are a lot of questions to ask before you jump into another move so you don’t carry the problem with you or repeat the same mistake. Are you the first tenant? What type of paint did the landlord use? Did the former occupant have pets? What type of heating system and stove do you have? Are both well maintained to burn cleanly and efficiently? Do cockroaches or mice live between the walls?
Is your apartment in a high traffic area? Is your high-rise apartment over a parking garage, dry cleaner business or restaurant? Is it in a historic building? Are tenants allowed to smoke in the building?

There are many possible reasons for symptoms, some of which may have nothing to do with your apartment or asthma. So here’s our best suggestion: Confirm the diagnosis of asthma with a board certified allergist and get tested for allergies. At the physician’s office, check your lung capacity with a spirometer to get a baseline and then blow into a machine that measures exhaled nitric oxide (ENO), a sign of airway inflammation. Use a peak flow meter to measure lung function at home daily while taking steps outlined in AANMA’s Indoor AIRepair Kit to identify and remove common indoor air allergens and irritants hiding in places you may not expect.