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Don't Let Asthma Chill Winter Fun

Tips on avoiding exercise-induced asthma in winter

SUNDAY, Feb. 1, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Don't let asthma put the chill on your winter fun.

Cold air can cause problems for people with asthma when they're skating, snowboarding, skiing or taking part in any other outdoor winter activity. The best way to control exercise-induced asthma (EIA) is to prevent it, Dr. Sally Wenzel, of the National Jewish Medical and Research Center, says in a prepared statement.

People with asthma should use their asthma inhalers before they exercise and they need to make sure they do a proper warm-up.

"Just break a light sweat, then stop exercising. After about 30 minutes start exercising. Later you'll have some added protection because the body produces chemicals that protect against bronchospasm. You still should take beta-agonists, which open airways," Wenzel says.

Coughing and wheezing, rather than shortness of breath, are signs that you may have EIA.

"If a person starts coughing and wheezing after exercise this could be a sign he or she is developing asthma. A person with these symptoms should be seen by a physician," Wenzel says.

Here are some tips on how to prevent EIA while you enjoy winter sports:

  • Wear a mask or scarf to warm cold air before breathing it in.
  • Take asthma medication 15 to 30 minutes before starting your activity.
  • Warm-up for 30 to 60 minutes beforehand, then stop.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about exercise-induced asthma.

SOURCE: National Jewish Medical and Research Center, news release, January 2004
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