7 strategies to fight winter breathing problems

Simple steps can help you avoid complications that come from breathing cold, dry air.

A blast of cold air in the face as you step outside is a brisk reminder that the harshness of winter has arrived. And a deep breath of icy air can be risky for people with respiratory conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD — which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema). The cold temperatures can trigger symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath.

Even in healthy people, cold, dry air can irritate the airways and lungs. It causes the upper airways to narrow, which makes it a little harder to breathe.

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