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14-11-2013 | Respiratory | Article

Young adults with asthma ‘need cold weather care’


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medwireNews: Researchers say that young adults with asthma should receive extra care and guidance during the winter months, to stop the effects of cold weather exposure from limiting their activities.

Jouni Jaakkola (University of Oulu, Finland) and colleagues found that individuals with asthma in their 20s had a significantly higher risk for cold weather-related symptoms than those without, particularly if they also had allergic rhinitis.

“Our study underlines that asthma and allergic rhinitis indicate already in young adulthood susceptibility to the effects of exposure to cold, which should be taken into account in the clinical care of this patient group,” they comment.

The team received questionnaire responses from 1623 adults aged 20 to 27 years who participated in the 20-year follow-up of a birth cohort study based in the city of Espoo, Finland. In the study years 2010 and 2011, there were 4 and 3 months, respectively, during which the mean temperature in Espoo was below 0°C.

Overall, 10% of respondents had asthma, of whom 68% had concurrent allergic rhinitis. Additionally, 21% of respondents had allergic rhinitis without concurrent asthma.

The researchers found that asthma and allergic rhinitis both independently and synergistically increased the risk for cold weather-related symptoms. The prevalence of shortness of breath and wheezing was only slightly increased by the presence of allergic rhinitis, but was increased 4.5- and 10.7-fold, respectively, in patients with asthma and 7.2- and 13.1-fold in patients with both conditions.

Similarly, phlegm production was slightly increased in patients with allergic rhinitis, and increased 2.7-fold in those with asthma, and 3.7-fold in those with asthma and allergic rhinitis.

Additionally, the prevalence of cough was increased around fourfold, and the prevalence of chest pain around 2.5-fold in all patients with asthma.

“Our findings emphasize the need for managing the cold-related symptoms so that they compromise the activities of young adults with respiratory diseases as little as possible,” write Jaakkola et al in Respiratory Medicine.

“Methods for clinical management could include recommendations for appropriate protective clothing, adjustment of medication, and protection of the respiratory zone, and instructions to avoid long exposure times under extreme cold temperatures.”

medwireNews ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2013

By Kirsty Oswald, medwireNews Reporter

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