Breathing Difficulty Caused By Cold Weather

What Causes Breathing Problems During Cold Weather?

Breathing problems during cold weather can have various causes, just like most other symptoms.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose breathing problems during cold weather, we could:
  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "breathing problems during cold weather" as a symptom.  Here are three possibilities:
  • Asthma
  • Emphysema
  • Acute Bronchitis

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
chest tightness
high pollution exposure
shortness of breath when at rest
recurrent bronchitis
asthma
blue/bluish fingernails
highly elevated basophil count
wheezing
past vaccinations
being short of breath when inactive
recent productive cough
slightly elevated eosinophil count
... and so on

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of breathing problems during cold weather:
Cause Probability Status
Asthma 97% Confirm
Acute Bronchitis 23% Unlikely
Emphysema 2% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate problems caused by cold/damp weather, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
Does cold weather cause breathing problems?
Possible responses:
→ Don't know
→ No
→ Yes, it is slightly more difficult to breathe
→ Yes, I have noticeable breathing difficulty
→ Yes, severe breathing problems
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate either breathing unaffected by cold weather or difficulty breathing in cold weather, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Acute Bronchitis

Cold, damp weather can aggravate bronchitis.

Asthma

Asthma attacks are usually triggered by the body's response to an allergy, but inhaling cold air can also trigger bronchospasms.

Emphysema

Cold, dry air can cause narrowing of the airways in some people with chronic bronchitis or emphysema, which makes breathing more difficult.