Asthma control and cold weather-related respiratory symptoms

A common condition affecting many people around the world is asthma.  This condition, if not well controlled, can decrease the quality of life of those patients.  It is possible that the amount of respiratory symptoms during cold weather are more prevalent in those with a current respiratory condition because breathing cold air can cause a change in the airways.  This study tested whether there was difference between good asthma control and poor asthma control on the occurrence of cold weather-related respiratory symptoms.

A total of 5,000 subjects were given two different questionnaires to fill out.  From the 2,033 subjects who responded, 1,995 subjects were eligible for the study.  The questionnaires contained questions such as how much times the asthma kept the subject from achieving at work, or how often the subject experienced shortness of breath.  The questions ultimately were trying to assess if the subject experienced more asthma symptoms (shortness of breath, prolonged cough, wheezing, phlegm production, and chest pain) during cold weather.

After an analysis of the results, it was determined that cold weather does increase respiratory symptoms among adults with asthma.  This study is also the first to show that a poorer control of asthma does lead to more respiratory symptoms related to cold weather.  The most common symptom was that of cold weather induced chest pain among those with poor asthma control.  A low or high BMI and smoking also affects asthma control negatively.

I feel that this is something for pharmacists to keep in mind.  There may be a higher importance on controlling asthma in patients who live in colder areas.  For pharmacists working in the community setting in a cold area, there could be emphasis placed on assessing the adherence of those with asthma medications.

Respir Med. 2016;113:1-7.