Although the warmer weather seems to have lasted well into the Autumn this year, it’s important to remember that cold weather could strike at any time. For asthma sufferers who have become used to warm, damp weather this can come as a shock to the system, so the charity Asthma UK provides specific advice every winter to help them avoid complications. This includes simple measures such as wearing a scarf over the nose and mouth to warm cold and damp air before it’s breathed in, which can reduce the risk of a potentially serious asthma attack.
Amongst older people living in care homes who go out less frequently, this type of advice can be particularly helpful in reducing the likelihood of flare ups during the winter months. Read on to learn more about helping your service users with asthma and the steps you can take to protect them this winter.
Reduce Asthma Risks
Bonfire Night and Christmas are times when service users may be going out with family to attend seasonal celebrations which can place them at high risk of asthma flare ups in colder weather. By making sure those accompanying your service users with asthma have an awareness of some of the simple steps they can take to protect them, you can help them to enjoy their celebrations without the risk of an unexpected asthma attack.
4 Steps to Reduce the Risks to People with Asthma
- Use a scarf: As the Asthma UK campaign reminds us, wearing a scarf to cover the mouth and nose to warm cold air before it reaches the air passages can reduce the risk of an asthma attack. Make sure that your staff know this important fact and help them to raise awareness of this useful preventative measure amongst your service users and their families.
- Be weather aware: For service users with asthma, knowing the weather conditions in advance can be key to preventing exacerbations. As the temperature gets lower, the risk of asthma attacks increases so in severe conditions, it may be wise to avoid going out altogether.
- Use inhalers effectively: In cold weather, it’s more important than ever to use preventer inhalers as prescribed and also essential to carry a reliever inhaler at all times, particularly when away from the care home. Understanding the importance of using a reliever at the first sign of breathing difficulties can make the difference between managing the condition well and being admitted to hospital.
- Encourage on nose breathing: People with chronic breathing difficulties often mouth breathe in an attempt to take more air into their lungs but this can actually make matters worse. Breathing through the nose warms the air as it enters through the nasal passages and can reduce the risk of spasms.
For more on best practice in managing asthma and other common conditions in care service users, read Care Quality Matters. We offer a 30-day free trial of our newsletter for Registered Managers – which comes with loads of downloadable tools and resources to help you provide the best possible standards of care.