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If there was a way to magically skip winter altogether, with all of its snow and cold air, there’s no doubt asthma sufferers would be the first ones down for the cause. Cold, dry air, as well as the common cold and sinus infections (more common during the winter months) can make asthma symptoms worse.

The seriousness of asthma, especially for African Americans, cannot be stated enough. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, African Americans were three times more likely to die from asthma related causes than the white population in 2013.

Dry air can irritate the airways of people with asthma. This can cause things that get in the way of winter fun, like wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath. Follow these five tips to help protect yourself from cold, dry air:

1. Create and use your asthma action plan. When an asthma attack happens there is no time to think about what you should do. Time is of the essence. It’s important to create an asthma action plan in advance that outlines what to do when your asthma symptoms flare up and when it’s time to seek emergency help. This three-step action plan is a great place to start.

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