The bitter cold air that is upon us can not only bring on colds or the flu, it can also spark flareups for asthma sufferers.

Allergist and professor at Hackensack School of Medicine at Seton Hall University, Dr. Leonard Bielroy said when the cold air enters our system, the body wants to warm the air so it narrows the passageway and secretes mucus to line the air because it's dry. For many people, this can cause spasms, coughing and wheezing.

An asthmatic will cough and clamp down even further, which can bring on an asthma attack, said Bielroy.

He added that cold air will be a severe trigger for those who have underlying asthma. About 60 percent of asthmatics have pollen as their allergic trigger for asthma. For 20 percent it's other irritants such as cigarette smoke. But Bielroy said it doesn't matter what the trigger is, cold air will trigger them all in asthmatics.

Bielroy said if an asthmatic knows the cold air is coming, they should be taking maintenance medication, preferably 12 to 24 hours prior. Even if you haven't had to medicate in the past couple of months, take it now.

For all asthmatics, Bielroy warns they should wear a face mask or a scarf to cover the airway so they breathe in warmer air and keep the cold out.

If nothing seems to be helping, they should get to the emergency room as soon as possible.

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