Anyone suffering from asthma quickly learns that cold air often brings on an attack. The problem with cold-induced asthma symptoms is that they can be easily mistaken for other, much less serious problems (like being extremely tired). Because exercise- and cold-induced asthma can, in some cases, result in death, it is very important to correctly name the symptoms. Even if you’re not an asthmatic, this knowledge may save the life of one of your friends.
How could it happen?
Cold-induced asthma is caused by a narrowing of airways irritated by inflowing cold air. The symptoms are as the following:
1. Difficulty in breathing
Difficulty in breathing is the easiest signal to notice, but it is also the easiest of all cold-induced asthma symptoms to misinterpret. When coming into contact with cold air, or after exercising, some breathing problems are perfectly natural. But if someone says that he/she feels tightness in the chest, or if you notice certain irregularity in breathing (exhalation takes twice as long as inhalation) – remember that all these are genuine cold-induced asthma symptoms. At this point it is possible that the attack in already on the way.
2. Bluish color of face and/or lips
The facial discoloration is caused by the lack of oxygen. The problem is that it is also a natural color of the human face in cold weather. Fortunately, this cold-induced asthma symptom is visible along with other, more straightforward symptoms. The face color usually changes at the same moment an asthmatic starts loosing his/her consciousness.
3. Decreased level of consciousness
Losing consciousness is potentially the most dangerous of all cold-induced asthma symptoms. The confusions unconsciousness creates often prolongs the time between the attack and the sufferer receiving some help. Keep that in mind when someone shows signs of breathing problems. The danger of indulging violent outdoor exercises in winter is the possibility of losing consciousness… and that is a classic example of cold-induced asthma symptoms.
4. Severe apprehension
Another important cold-induced asthma symptom is fear. When an asthmatic feels he/she can’t breathe, he or she will show fear bordering on panic, even if it is impossible for him or her to speak. This is probably the most important symptom of asthma for non-asthmatics. Exhaustion alone does not generate such fear. Consider this situation: you notice that your friend on a hiking trip stops suddenly and tries to take a deep breath. You think he or she is probably tired, but you come closer. If you see a trace of panic in his or her eyes, you can be sure that it’s not about being exhausted: the cold-induced asthma attack in on its way. Symptoms don’t lie.
Don’t overlook them!
The worst thing you can do is to ignore or misinterpret cold-induced asthma symptoms. If it is a severe case of asthma, the very life of an asthmatic may rest entirely in your hands. It is not an exaggeration to say that your reaction may decide whether someone lives or dies! This is especially important outdoors or in wilderness.
If you spend regular time with an asthmatic you should discuss the situation with your friend. First agree on a gesture that will alert you to start of a server asthma attack. Next be sure you know what medications should be administered and where those medications are kept.
With some simple planning asthma can be controlled in a calm, rational manner. That planning leads to a very normal life for the sufferer.