Cold-induced asthma

Cold-induced asthma is an infection-triggered variant of asthma that usually affects children, but also adults. It is often triggered by a common cold virus, rhinovirus, influenza virus, or adenoviruses.


Asthma causes airway inflammation and difficulty breathing. Several factors, including exercise and cold weather, can trigger asthma symptoms. Inhaling cold, dry air can cause the airways to tighten, making it harder to breathe.


Appotek can advise you on symptoms and refer you to a specialist for treatment.


Asthma causes the airways to become dense, which makes it difficult for the air to pass through them. Cold-induced asthma has several different symptoms, such as heavy breathing or intense fatigue during exertion. Other symptoms include persistent and prolonged coughing during colds, coughing without any explanation, especially at night, or asthma attacks of shortness of breath and wheezing. 


Cold-induced asthma can cause symptoms that include:


  • chest pain
  • coughing
  • feeling short of breath
  • a sensation of tightness in the chest
  • wheezing


These symptoms tend to develop shortly after a person is exposed to cold air outdoors. They usually go away after the person reaches a warmer environment.


However, an individual with more severe asthma may experience longer-lasting symptoms.

Prevention and Protection

The only useful ways to reduce the spread of cold viruses are physical measures such as using correct handwashing techniques and face masks. Isolation or quarantine are not used as the disease is so widespread and symptoms are nonspecific. Vaccination has proved difficult as there are so many viruses involved and they mutate rapidly.


Treatments of the common cold primarily involve medications and other therapies for symptomatic relief. Getting plenty of rest, drinking fluids to maintain hydration and good nutrition.


If you have an asthma attack that is triggered by cold weather, you should first use a short-acting inhaler to loosen and open up the airways. Typically, this inhaler contains albuterol, a beta agonist. You should always carry this inhaler with you.


Next, you should try to get to a warmer environment as quickly as possible. After breathing in warmer air for several minutes, the airways should start to open up and symptoms should reduce quickly.


If you experience these symptoms regularly, you should address this with your doctor, who may prescribe further long-term treatments, such as a long-acting bronchodilator.

When to consult a doctor

If you suffer from heavy breathing and other asthma-like symptoms, you should contact your doctor. Many people have asthma without knowing about it. If you or your child develop long-lasting infections, breathing problems or prolonged colds and are unable to be active in everyday life, you should also seek medical care.


If you have asthma without getting sufficient relief from your asthma medication, you should consult your doctor.


Seek urgent care if you suddenly find it difficult to breathe, with or without an asthma diagnosis.

How APPOTEK can help

At APPOTEK we can advise you on cold-induced asthma. In cases where a child has already been diagnosed with cold-induced asthma, following a physical consultation, we can help to renew prescriptions and write certificates for that child. If our physicians decide that a physical examination is required for accurate diagnosis, then we will refer you on to a physical care provider.


Vadym Diadiun, Doctor of Medicine, M.D.