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Asthma And Colds - How To Cope

Posted in General Health 18 Nov, 2015

Colds are never a pleasant experience, but when you have asthma they can be fatal. Asthma kills three people every day in the UK. It's common and 'normalised' but that doesn't mean it isn't still a threat. Don't move this winter without your inhaler. Or any season for that matter.

Why Do Colds Trigger Asthma?

Researchers aren't sure, but recent research points towards asthmatics experiencing a rise of inflammatory protein in the airway cells. This rise can set of inflammatory reactions, which include a restricted airway - and this can result in an asthma attack.

Specifically researcher discovered that rhinovirus - the common cold – induces higher production of interleukin-25 (IL-25) in those with asthma. Tests have only been carried out on mice so far, but researcher believe that if IL-25 is blocked it will reduce the inflammation and potentially stave off asthma attacks.

But reducing the IL - 25 inflammatory reaction is not yet a reality, so what can you do in the meantime to protect yourself?

What To Do Now

  • Create an asthma treatment plan or review your existing plan. You may need to increase your dosage when you get a cold. Your plan will also tell you what to do, and who to get help from, if you feel a cold is worsening your asthma. Don't wait until it's too late.
  • If you've been prescribed a preventative inhaler, take it every day as prescribed. It helps to control inflammation in your lungs, meaning you're less likely to have an asthma attack even if you do come into contact with a trigger such as a cold or flu virus.
  • Make sure your inhalers work and they haven't got damp. Keep more than one to hand - in your bag, car, shed, and places of work. Make sure others know where to find your inhaler.
  • Try to avoid sudden hot to cold transitions, such as a heated environment to chilly frosty air. Take your inhaler if it's unavoidable.
  • The NHS recommends asthmatics have a flu jab - so get one.
  • If you feel sinus irritation see your GP, because sinus infections can set off asthma symptoms too.
  • Check up on your relatives. Children, forty-somethings, mums, granddads - anyone prone to asthma could badly affected this winter. Check they have enough medication and have a plan in place.
  • Keep your child's school record up to date and check the inhaler there frequently. Drill your child into understanding the symptoms.

And How To Prevent A Cold!

You can't cure a cold, but there are some ways to minimise the risks of catching one.

  • Wash, wash, wash your hands with hot soapy water and don't touch your face. Most cold viruses are transferred from door handles or surfaces, and rubbed into your mouth, nose or eyes.
  • It's common decency to sneeze in a tissue.
  • Eat well. Biscuits do nothing except shrink your jeans, but veggies and fruit have plenty of anti-oxidants and vitamins to strengthen your immune system. When you have a cold.

Ask your pharmacist for help, there are plenty of over the counter remedies, but not all of them are suitable for asthma sufferers. Keep warm, drink lots of fluids (not brandy) and did I mention don't move a muscle without your inhaler?

Be safe, be careful and don't underestimate the effects of an asthma attack on your ability to stay alive.

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