Summer is here and in full swing for most parts of the country. While kids everywhere are rejoicing over a break from school, individuals with COPD may be dreading the warmer temperatures and high humidity. Many people living with COPD cite spring and fall as their favorite seasons, where the environment is milder and takes less of a toll on the body. Nonetheless, summer is upon us and it’s time to gear up against it.
We asked you in the community for your feedback on how you fight the heat and humidity of summer, and we received great responses! Ultimately, there were some common trends and tips shared by many of you, that may prove to be helpful if you’re still fighting an uphill battle with these warmer months.
“I try to do anything outdoors in the morning, then spend the day in the air conditioning”
“I do indoor chores late at night and outdoor chores early in the morning”
“I try to do things early to stay out of the heat”
“If I have to go out, I try to make it the shortest time possible and park as close as possible to where I’m going”
Not only can the summer heat be uncomfortable, it can also be dangerous for those with COPD. Increased fatigue, lethargy, added difficulty in breathing, and crushing humidity can create many dangerous roadblocks. Additionally, allergies to summer plants and trees can provide an added obstacle to an already treacherous time. It probably comes as no surprise for anyone living with COPD to hear that planning ahead can alleviate some of these difficulties.
So what does it mean exactly to “plan ahead” for the summer? There are a variety of options! Planning ahead can include scheduling any necessary errands or outdoor tasks in the early morning or later at night when temperatures are at their tamest. Additionally, checking allergy and air quality reports daily can provide a clearer picture of what you may be up against if you head outdoors (or maybe even encourage you to stay in completely!). Bringing along fast acting inhalers, surgical masks, or portable fans were also some of your favorite methods to stay one step ahead of the heat. Planning cool outdoor activities such as relaxing in a chilly backyard pool also topped the list of ways you can combat the heat!
“I keep plenty of cold water for drinking and watermelon cubes to prevent dehydrating”
“Gotta keep a water bottle with me at all times”
“Hydration is key. If I get dehydrated, my symptoms get so much worse”
Staying hydrated is key for everyone in the summertime, and is especially crucial for those living with COPD. Staying hydrated keeps your body functioning properly, so it can work as hard as it can to keep you comfortable. After all, the hotter or colder it is outside, the harder your body has to work to keep your temperature constant. This requires more oxygen, which can take a toll on those with COPD. Drinking plenty of water or eating water-filled fruits and foods can aid your body in carrying out its essential functions.
Avoiding the Heat Altogether
“I stay in and enjoy the air conditioner. With COPD you could not survive without it”
“I stay inside most of the time”
“I used to hate air conditioning, now I can’t be without it”
“My house stays at 68 degrees”
If all else fails, and the summertime weather proves to be too much, staying inside with air conditioning and/or fans can be the best option. If A/C or fans are not available in your home, finding a cool place to hang out for the day may also be a good option. Malls, movie theaters, and museums can provide a chilly, yet relaxing atmosphere for a daybreak. If you do choose to stay inside, it can be hard to keep yourself entertained. Participating in some of your favorite activities at home, as well as staying active and exercising can make the days go by even a little bit faster!
Share with us any of your tips for beating the summer heat with COPD, or let us know if any of these work for you!