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Every time I go for a walk in the cold air I come inside and get a very bad cough. I just thought that it was asthma brought on by the cold air and it only last for a short period of time so I don`t take any thing for it. This winter just to be out in the cold for a few minutes would start the cough. I also found that when I drink something cold I also get the cough. Could the drinking of something cold be connected to the asthma?


Cold air is a common trigger of bronchospasm (tightening of the breathing tubes) in those with asthma, especially during exercise.  Bronchospasm may cause coughing or wheezing and is generally relieved with fast acting bronchodilator (ProAir, Proventil, Ventolin, Xopenex, MaxAir).  To prevent symptoms many wear a scarf around their nose and mouth to warm the air, others premedicate with a fast acting bronchodilator before walking or performing other exercise in the cold. 

Drinking very cold liquids or a big gulp of liquid can trigger cough, choking, or chest pain.  The temperature or pressure may trigger the cough reflex or esophogeal spasm.  In a rare instance it is possible some of the fluid can be aspirated into the wind pipe which causes coughing/choking. 

If you are sensitive to very cold liquids you may consider taking smaller swallows of liquid and not adding ice cubes.  Talk to your provider if you are choking or belive you may need a premedication when exercising in the cold air.

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Response by:

Cathy   Benninger, RN, MS, APRN, C-AE Cathy Benninger, RN, MS, APRN, C-AE
Clinical Assistant Professor
Director, OSU Asthma Center Educational Program
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University