RICHMOND (WRIC) - This winter a lot of asthma patients in Richmond are having more problems.
Richmond has been the asthma capital of the country for a few years now due to poor air quality, a high pollen count and other factors. When you add another common trigger to the mix -- cold temperatures -- it can wreak havoc on patients, like Diane McClure.
"I check the temperature every morning when I get up to see what the temperature is outside and I don't go outside and when I have to I put a scarf over my mouth," she says.
Dr. Jamie Hey with Pulmonary Associates of Richmond hears more complaints this time of year.
"We see definitely an uptick in the patient visits for asthma in the winter both in the hospital and the office."
A lot of people struggle with the bitter air. The high incidence of the cold and flu can also mean a visit to the ER.
"When an asthma patient gets it, it can make their asthma worse."
Dr. Hey says it's important that patients use their inhalers -- both control and rescue medications when needed.
Richmond's dealt with one extreme high and low after another this winter and McClure can't wait for the weather to truly break.
"You just don't know. You don't know when you get up in the morning what it's going to be like and whether you're going to be able to go outside."
Dr. Hey shared some of the best lines of defense for asthma patients.
They're the same as what you should be doing to fight off a cold or flu virus - good hand washing, the flu shot and staying away from people with respiratory illnesses.
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