Breathing in Cold Weather - Safety Advice | Treatment Care & Tips

Treatment Care & Tips

Tips for Breathing in Cold Weather

It’s important to be aware that the cold weather—and particularly the cold air—can impact your health. Cold air can affect your lungs.


Part of the job of the lungs is to keep the air in your body moist. When you breathe in cold, dry air, the cells in your lungs work to add water to the air. This sometimes causes a burning sensation when breathing.


Cold air is very dry, and may cause the cells in your windpipe to become dehydrated. They try to get the air to 100 percent humidity before it reaches your lungs. When the cells become dehydrated, you may also feel a burning sensation in your throat and lungs.


Here are a few tips for how to breathe easier in cold weather:

  • Wear a scarf or a face mask. This will trap and warm the cold, dry air before breathing it in.
  • Try breathing through your nose instead of your mouth.
  • Use a humidifier in your home to moisturize your indoor air (and make sure you clean the humidifier, too!).


Chronic Conditions and Difficulty Breathing

If you suffer from certain conditions, like COPD or asthma, you may have difficulty breathing and wheeze when you’re exposed to cold air. Take these extra precautions in addition to those above to help lessen the symptoms:

  • Take a preventative dose of your rescue inhaler before heading outside. This will open and relax the airways, making it easier to breathe. Make sure you also carry your inhaler with you at all times in case you need it.
  • Avoid smoking and wood-burning stoves or fireplaces. This exposure can irritate the airways, and when combined with cold weather, often worsen breathlessness.
  • Exercise indoors during the winter months as you won’t be exposed to the cold air for long periods of time like you might if you were running outside.


When winter comes around, make sure you’re doing everything you can to help yourself breathe easier. Check back for more articles on how to deal with cold temperatures.

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