POSTED: Sunday, February 23, 2014 - 9:00am
UPDATED: Sunday, February 23, 2014 - 9:04am
(CNN) — Asthma affects more than 22 million Americans of all ages.
It can be challenging, even dangerous, for asthmatics who don't take proper care of themselves.
And the wintertime poses its own set of triggers.
Gayle Richardson is breathing easier these days, now that she has her asthma under control.
But certain things trigger her condition, especially this time of year.
“I have more issues with asthma in the wintertime because of the colds and the flu virus that are floating around, if I get something like that, it will definitely have a stronger effect on me,” Richardson explained.
This is common in people with the chronic lung condition, says Dr. Stanley Fineman:
“Because the asthmatic has airways that are very hyper-sensitive, they're already inflamed, so the virus does more damage in the asthmatic patients than they would do in somebody who doesn't have asthma.”
Inflamed and swollen lungs can make it difficult to breathe.
To minimize attacks during winter, Dr. Fineman offers advice to patients.
Most importantly, know your triggers.
Cold air can exacerbate the condition, as can windy weather.
But also, stay on long-term control medication.
Remember indoor irritants too, things like: smoke, scented candles and fireplaces.
He recommends a flu shot for everyone with the condition.
And his final tip to keep healthy could be the simplest.
Good hand washing and good hygiene is also important.