Is the cold making your allergies and asthma worse?

November 30, 2021

Along with a drop in temperature, winter brings a whole new set of allergens and irritants to upset those of us who suffer from asthma. For St. Louis allergy and asthma sufferers in particular, the outside climate is a major factor when it comes to winter asthma. 

Because the dry, cold weather generally drives us indoors, our exposure to indoor irritants is increased. It can seem a no-win situation: the cold irritates your airways and causes them to react when you’re outside, and if you have allergic asthma, things like pet dander, particles from wood fires and furnaces and dust make you wheeze when you’re inside.

A side effect of being indoors more during cold weather is a deficiency of vitamin D, which we absorb from the sun through our skin. A lack of vitamin D has been linked to a worsening of asthma symptoms.

The irritation and inflammation in your lungs can trigger a sudden narrowing of the airways called bronchospasm. These pulmonary changes result in allergy and asthma symptoms such as wheezing, shortness of breath, and a sensation of chest tightness.

But how can you tell allergy and asthma symptoms from Covid-19? Along with common colds and influenza, the symptoms can look and feel similar. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a simple breakdown of the symptoms of each, though this is not a complete list and symptoms can vary from person to person:

COVID-19 symptoms
  • Fever and chills
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Muscle and body aches
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
Allergy/asthma symptoms
  • Itchy eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Sneezing
Symptoms of both
  • Cough, congestion or runny nose
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing (more common with asthma)
  • Fatigue
  • Headache and sore throat

If you’re a St. Louis allergy and asthma sufferer, your primary care physician can help you adjust your medication to cope with your allergy and asthma symptoms and work with you to find some easy ways to help minimize them.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other healthcare provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition or treatment, or before starting a new healthcare regimen and never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you've read on this website.

Photo by Brittany Colette on Unsplash


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