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Severe Cold Can Damage Lungs: 4 Tips to Protect Your Airways

(January 2, 2018) -

For more information please contact:

James Martinez
[email protected]
(312) 445-2501

The recent cold snap in Chicago is wreaking havoc on roads, travel time and freezing pipes, but it can also damage your lungs.
According to the American Lung Association in Greater Chicago, cold air is often dry air, and for many, especially those with chronic lung disease, it can be harmful. Dry air can irritate the airways of people with asthma, COPD or bronchitis. This can cause wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath.

To help protect yourself from cold, dry air, the American Lung Association offers the following tips:

  1. Protect Your Nose and Mouth with a Scarf: Loosely wrap a scarf around your nose and mouth to warm the air before it enters your lungs. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  2. Monitor air quality forecasts to stay healthy. Air pollution can be very high in the winter, especially in areas with a lot of wood burning. Those with asthma and other lung diseases are at higher risk for being harmed by air pollution.
  3. Keep Medications Close: If you have asthma or COPD, always keep quick-relief medications with you. Stop activity and use your quick-relief medicine as soon as you begin to have symptoms.
  4. Avoid Wood-Burning Fireplaces: Although a wood-burning fireplace may seem like the perfect place to warm up, the smoke and fumes from fireplaces can be very irritating to people with allergies or lung disease. An alternate heat source and a warm blanket might be the best choice for beating the chill.

“Along with cold weather often comes cold, flu and possibly even pneumonia,” said Kristen Young, executive director for the American Lung Association in Greater Chicago. “Getting a chill can actually make a person more susceptible to a respiratory infection, so it is important to dress warmly and keep your feet and head covered when out in the severe cold.”

For more information or to ask questions about your lung health, contact the American Lung Association Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNGUSA or visit the website.


About the American Lung Association

The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit:

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