Having Difficulty Breathing In Cold Weather?

For some people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, and chronic bronchitis, breathing cold, dry air can have a drying or irritating effect on the airway causing bronchospasm (contraction of the smooth muscle that surrounds the airway). Bronchospasm decreases the size of the airway, thus makes it more difficult to get the air in and out of the lungs, increasing shortness of breath. The constriction of the airways may reduce the flow of air into and out of your lungs, which adds to the feeling of breathlessness and may even cause wheezing.

What to do?

Don’t think that just because it is cold outside you have to stay indoors. Living well with lung disease is important for our bodies so that means staying active. But do pay attention to weather and wind chill alerts. There are certain times you should stay inside and extreme weather would be one of those times.

Educate yourself with our Free Oxygen Therapy Guide

Here are some tips for coping with the cold and its effects on your lungs.

  • Wear a soft scarf over your nose and mouth.
  • Breath through your nose as this filters, warms and humidifies the air before it enters your lungs.
  • Use your bronchodilator, your rescue inhaler, 30 minutes before you go outside. The inhaler will open and relax the airways making it easier to breathe. Also carry it with you when you go out into the cold.
  • Exercise indoors. We know that exercise is so important for people with lung disease so even though the temperature drops you still need to remain active. Exercise in your home or go to the mall and walk.
  • If it is very cold and dry a home humidifier may help but be sure you clean it properly.
  • Avoid wood burning stoves and fireplaces as the smoke from these can irritate your airways and combined with the cold cause worsening breathlessness.

Information on this page is for reference and educational purposes only. For more information about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), talk to your doctor or primary care provider.

About Scott Ridl: Scott joined American Medical Sales and Rentals in 2008 as a Web Manager and Content Writer. He is a writer and designer. He is extensively trained on oxygen therapy products from leading manufacturers such as Inogen, Respironics, Chart, Invacare, ResMed and more. Scott works closely with respiratory therapists and oxygen specialists to educate the community about oxygen therapy products, COPD, asthma and lung diseases. He writes weekly columns and is passionate about educating the community on oxygen therapy and respiratory issues.

7 thoughts on “Having Difficulty Breathing In Cold Weather?”

  • Bob Mogue

    Keep up the good work with this newsletter. Bob Mogue

  • linus udobong
    linus udobong July 16, 2017 at 6:43 am

    I have cold related problems, and sometimes I don't breath very well is there cure for this.

    • Danielle Jason
      Danielle Jason July 19, 2017 at 4:06 am

      Thank you for your comment, Linus. If you are experiencing issues breathing, we suggest contacting your physician as soon as you are able.


    I have COPD & found this very helpful & now understand what is going on when i go outside in the cold. I had my husband read it & now he understands what i am going through. He also has COPD to & he's not as bad as I am & his lunges are larger than mine.

    • Danielle Jason

      Thank you so much for providing your feedback. It's wonderful to hear our blog helped your husband understand what you are going through. Let us know if you have any other topics that would be helpful for us to write about.

  • Novak Wilford
    Novak Wilford March 6, 2018 at 4:36 am

    Last year I started on COPD Herbal formula treatment from rich herbs foundation, the treatment worked incredibly for my lungs condition. I used the herbal treatment for almost 5 months, it reversed my COPD. My severe shortness of breath, dry cough, low energy, fatigue, chest tightness and others gradually disappeared. Visit rich herbs foundation via their web-site ww w. richherbsfoundation .com. This COPD treatment has improved the quality of my life greatly, i breath much better and feel comfortable doing so!


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