Winter 2009

Living with Asthma during the Winter Season


Oftentimes we look forward to winter as a refuge from the hot Texas summers - cooler weather, lots of indoor celebrations and good family fun. However, those cool temperatures and crowded gatherings should also be cause for increased awareness of asthma triggers.

To help build awareness, educators from the Seton Asthma Center offer the following advice for asthmatics and their families during the winter season.

Reduce your Risk of Cold and Flu
You can’t always prevent your child from getting a cold or flu, but you can help reduce the risk with just a few basic steps:

  • Hand washing. The best thing kids - and adults - can do to prevent any illness is wash their hands often and wash them thoroughly.
  • Get the flu vaccine. The influenza virus is especially difficult for asthmatics. It affects the lungs and, combined with the inflammation or swelling that is characteristic of asthma, may cause more frequent and severe asthma attacks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends an annual flu vaccine. For individuals with a chronic disease such as asthma, the injected form of the vaccine is recommended, not the inhaled.

When to Go to School
Many times asthmatic families wonder if they should send their children to school when certain symptoms are present. Use the following information as a general guide to help in making that decision. Your child can probably go to school if:

  • the child has a stuffy nose, but no wheezing
  • the child has a little bit of wheezing that goes away with the use of the quick-relief medicine
  • the child can perform normal daily activities
  • the child can breathe without extra effort
  • the peak flow (if age appropriate) is in the green zone

When to Stay Home
Your child should stay home if the following symptoms are present:

  • fever
  • sore throat or swollen or painful neck glands
  • wheezing or coughing that persists thirty minutes after using the quick-relief medicine
  • weakness that makes it difficult for the child to perform normal activities
  • breathing is hard or very fast
  • no response to asthma medications

A Few Other Tips

  • Be sure to dress your child appropriately for the weather. Even in Texas, we need items like scarves, hats and jackets that can protect us from the weather.
  • Always have rescue medications at your child’s school in the nurse’s office as well as an asthma action plan.
  • Don’t ignore symptoms. If your child has persistent coughing, wheezing or shortness of breath, contact your doctor’s office.

Good Health for Kids is produced by Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas.