When winter takes your breath away
You know it’s cold when you find yourself huffing and puffing in dry, icy air.
In order for your lungs to absorb and use oxygen, air needs to be as warm as your core body temperature of 37ºC and 100 per cent humidified.
Your body will do what it can to ensure this happens, for instance, your nose gets red to help warm air up. The cells lining your trachea give up their water supply to humidify the air about to go into your lungs.
This is not a problem if you are only out in the cold for a short time, however, if you are working hard or exercising, you breathe a lot harder for longer, and those trachea cells become dehydrated, then irritated, and feel like they’re burning.
The answer is to drink plenty of fluids, breathe through the nose, not the mouth, and focus on deep breathing rather than short quick panting, which irritates the trachea faster. A scarf over the nose, mouth and around the neck can help trap moisture to humidify it, and heat up incoming air.
It’s a little more complicated for those with respiratory problems, when a bronchospasm – a clamping down of the airways – is caused by factors including respiratory viruses, allergens, irritants such as smoke and sprays, dehydration, stress or panic attacks – and cold. It is often when some lung diseases are detected for the first time.
Efficient gas exchange is not only important for people with breathing difficulties from lung disorders, those recovering from lung/ chest infections, and people with weak or limited lung function, but also to those needing aerobic capacity such as athletes, or muscle energy production in low-oxygen conditions.
Visit Health 2000 to find out about magnesium aspartate’s role in supporting lung relaxation and efficient gas exchange. Its depletion is thought to lead to respiratory fatigue.