Tuesdays are Your Turn – Cold Air Attacks

Wintry weather never triggered my daughter, not even when we moved to Colorado and started hiking high up in the Rockies. But AG surprised me when she ended up hyper-sensitive to cold air during her recent bronchitis.

About four days mid-infection and two days into her course of antibiotics, boredom set in. Watching movies on the couch and playing video games had lost their appeal, and she begged me to let her read on our sunny front porch while the Sidekick skated around on the sidewalk.

At fifty degrees, with sunny blue skies and a promise not to indulge in activity beyond turning the pages of her book, why not?

She lasted four or five minutes before the harsh, bronchial coughing started back up and sent her back to the couch with her bronchodilator, to her great disappointment.

Now we wait and see if the next winter flare or major illness finds her sensitive to the chill again.

Does cold weather trigger you/your kid? How badly and under what circumstances?

24 responses to “Tuesdays are Your Turn – Cold Air Attacks”

  1. Sarah says:

    Cold weather triggers me. If it’s very cold out (blow ~-20C – or ~-4F), the cold will trigger me on its own, but if I’m already flaring, I’m sick or there’s other triggers in the air (wood smoke, for example), cold weather below about 5C or ~40F will trigger me.

    Cold flares vary from very mild (a bit of coughing) to so bad I end up wondering if I’ll end up in the ER by ambulance (like this December). A lot depends on whether I’m already flaring, and oddly enough, whether I’ve had an allergy injection within the past 48 hours – I’m more sensitive to cold and exercize for about 2 days after an allergy shot.

  2. My girl seems to react to the cold, but I actually think it has less to do with temp and more to do with the combo of cold and the air drying out since we are used to gulf coast humidity. Im watching her like a hawk as we speak b/c it was 31 here last night and down to 25F (windchill of 19) is predicted tonight
    Its worse if she is already flaring, but it can throw her to a flare if shes just a little borderline too. Its also worse if it drops suddenly

  3. Kelley says:

    My AG and me both cough a bit when it’s cold here, but that’s because our air quality goes way down with the temps. Just yesterday or the day before, we both started with mild coughing fits just from the neighbor’s fireplace. In part because of information you’ve given me here, I don’t use our fireplace unless it’s humid out (read as rainy) and only with the special logs. The cold itself doesn’t seem to bother her much that I’ve noticed, but I usually make her put her scarf on when it’s super cold out, so maybe that helped?

  4. kerri says:

    YES cold air is definitely a trigger for this Canadian [did you know some labs do cold-air challenge tests instead of methacholine or histamine challenge? Crazy.]

    If I’m flaring, I can start to react to temps even ABOVE zero — like 5*C. My worst cold air induced flares [that tend to last a few days] happen when it’s colder than -20*C [like Sarah mentioned]–the colder, the more quickly I find I start to tighten up. I’m a Scarf Ninja in the winter, even though it makes me feel like a freak, it’s less freak-like than coughing my brains out.

    If I’m going to be outside for any length of time [over half an hour, I’d say] or am already flaring, I pre-medicate with a couple hits of Ventolin for going outside. Of course, I pre-medicate pretty soundly for stuff like skating with the combined trigger of exercise AND cold air!

  5. Kat says:

    I tend to have the most trouble at the point at which my exterior mucus membranes(ie eyes/nose) start to crystallize at that point and below me and the ventolin see a lot of each other. Anything below 10F is fair game for some cold weather symptoms, by 0F it’s almost guarenteeded even under my balaclava(or baklava as I tend to call it) if I’m out over a few minutes, and below -10F I just premedicate. I don’t tend to flare that much from it so much as an immediate symptom onset, with near immediate relief once I’m in the warm moist indoor air.

  6. Amy says:

    So far, she doesn’t seem to have developed the cold air trigger all by itself – when the girls were at their bus stop this morning it was, oh, about 5 degrees outside, and she had no problems at all. Dunno if cold will complicate the next flare/illlness, but I hope it stays away as a stand-alone trigger, ya know?

  7. Elisheva says:

    I thought that I did, but now I’m visiting the US in pretty much Arctic temps and it’s not bothering me at all. I figure the reason the cold air in Israel bothers me is because it generally comes with mugginess or sandstorms, which are more of the problem. Here it’s just so cold, everything is frozen out of the air, so it’s great.

  8. Sarah says:

    Elisheva, that’s kind of the opposite for me: Dry cold bugs my lungs more than humid cold. Wierd, eh?

    (Oh no! I’ve shown my Canuck card! :P )

  9. Sara C. says:

    cold is more a trigger for ME than for M…but I’m SUPER vigilant about putting the scarf around her nose and mouth….and I don’t let her out in the freezing cold. She also has a note that states she doesn’t go outside at school if the temperature is below 35 degrees (32 is the district minimum…and most of the teachers won’t go out anyway…so it’s usually a moot point)

    She will normally cough a bit, but will usually settle down with a shot of Xop and warming up. I typically end up in a full-fledged flare requiring antibiotics and prednisone

  10. RNmon (previously lpnmon) says:

    Jumping in late here (computer crashed, so I’m behind on my blogs!), but I was wondering, for those of you who do react to the cold, does just going in to warmer air stop the flare? As well as ventolin/albuterol/xopenex?

    My asthma boy sometimes flares with the cold, but he really doesn’t like the way the albuterol makes him feel (and I don’t like how crazy it makes him-but I’d rather have him breathing and crazy than not). I imagine that the warm air would work, but would take longer, which seems to this non-asthmatic like torture. Is that right?

    I can’t tell you how much I value the experience of moms of older asthmatic kids and that of asthmatics old enough to pass on their wisdom so that I can better take care of my kids (and any patients in the hospital I may care for). Thanks guys!!

  11. Amy says:

    Hey, congratulations!
    When AG went through her bronchitis, moving her to warmer air stopped the flare BUT she was already using her inhaler round-the-clock, anyway.

  12. Sarah says:

    RNMom, I imagine that would be the way for some people. Certainly, if I’m having a very mild cold-induced attack, it works that way for me, but if it’s got going into a full-blown attack and I’m in trouble, then I seriously need my puffer.

    It’s the same for any trigger with me. If I’m around a smoker, moving away from the smoke can stop my coughing if i’m just getting started, but if I’ve already gotten going, I need to give in and take the puffer or at the very least I’ll be miserable for several hours until my lungs want to behave. But I’d guess it would depend on the person.

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