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Breathe better in the winter

If you have asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), breathing your best can be more challenging during winter months.

The reason? Cold, dry air can irritate the breathing tubes in your lungs, causing them to tighten up, making it harder to breathe, which may trigger symptoms such as wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath.

If your asthma or COPD often gets worse in winter, you can reduce your symptoms by following these tips from the American Lung Association and the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America:

Bundle up. Cover your nose and mouth with a scarf when you do go outside. This will warm the air before it reaches your lungs. You should also try to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, as this will further keep cold air out of your lungs.

Check the forecast. Try to avoid outdoor activities when the air quality is bad or it's very cold. If it's going to be very cold, try to move your workouts indoors where it's warmer.

Take your medicines as directed. This includes any daily controller medicines your doctor has prescribed. Keep your quick-relief inhaler with you at all times. Consider using it 20 to 30 minutes before participating in any cold-air activities, and use it right away if your symptoms flare.

Also wash your hands often to help prevent other infections, especially respiratory infections.

As always, ask your doctor if you have questions about how to breathe better in winter.

Questions about COPD?

Call the Sky Lakes Cardiopulmonary Department on weekdays at 541-274-6757.

Sources: American Lung Association; Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America

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