Asthma is a respiratory condition that causes occasional difficulties with breathing.
An asthma attack is when the symptoms of asthma get worse for a short time. This can happen suddenly or gradually over a few days.
Attacks have been known to have fatal consequences, with statistics revealing the death of three people in the UK each day.
A sudden change in the weather, particularly cold weather, can trigger symptoms, but why?
Cold or damp air can enter the airways and trigger them to go into spasm, according to Asthma UK. This causes asthma symptoms like coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and tightness in the chest.
It further explains: “During cold, damp weather there are also more mould spores in the air, which can trigger asthma symptoms too.
“And winter can be a difficult time for people with asthma for other reasons too.
“It’s hard to avoid the cold and flu viruses that many people say make their asthma symptoms worse.
“Being vaccinated against flu each year can prevent you getting the most common strain of flu virus.”
But if you avoid going outside in the winter because of the cold weather you may be exposed to more indoor air pollutants like dust mite droppings and dimes from cooking or cleaning products, which can also trigger asthma.
So how can you reduce the risk of an asthma attack happening in cold weather? The asthma charity offers three tips.
The first is to keep an eye on the wether forecast every day.
Secondly, if your symptoms are triggered by sudden changes in temperature you can try wrapping a scarf loosely over your nose and mouth before you go out.
Thirdly, try breathing in through your nose instead of your mouth, to arm the air as you breathe it in.
Carrying your reliever inhaler with you at all times and taking your regular preventer inhaler as prescribed by your doctor will also help.
How do you know if you have the condition in the first place? The NHS lists four main symptoms.
These are wheezing, a whistling sound when breathing, breathlessness, a tight chest, which may feel like a band is tightening around it, and coughing.
Many things can cause these symptoms to happen, but they are more likely to be signs of asthma if they happen often and keeping coming back or are worse at night and early in the morning.
Symptoms of an asthma attack are wheezing, coughing and chest tightness becoming severe and constant, being too breathless to eat, speak or sleep, breathing faster, a fast heartbeat, drowsiness, confusion, exhaustion or dizziness, blue lips or fingers, and fainting.
Asthma UK has also issued advice on how to prevent asthma attacks from the top 10 most common triggers.