When it comes to summer, a lot of people think about bathing suits, sunbathing, going out for leisurely walks, and sitting outside in the sun. But if you have COPD, summer can also be a difficult time marked by struggles with respiratory problems and difficulty breathing.
Protecing our bodies
Part of living with COPD is that we have to be extra careful about protecting our bodies - and that means our lungs first and foremost. That means doing everything we can to avoid exacerbations, (flare-ups). With summer here, it's important to know what to expect and how you can prepare yourself. The summer weather in particular is especially hard for many people with COPD, as conditions can be dangerous for your lungs. The extra humidity can worsen your symptoms and make it much more difficult to breathe.
The summer weather can also sap your energy and interfere with your ability to exercise and do other activities that help keep us well and fit. It's difficult to keep the balance especially in the heat and humid conditions. The best time to exercise might be different now from when we usually do it. We have to check the weather forecast and take note of it.
Hot weather tips
Here are some helpful tips for dealing with the hot weather:
Wear appropriate clothing: In this hot weather, it's best to wear loose clothing and light colors. Light colors don't attract the heat as much and wearing loose clothes will give your body room to breathe and the clothes won't cling to you.
Stay hydrated: Staying hydrated is so important in all the seasons, but especially in summer so the heat doesn't negatively affect our bodies inside and out. We need to stay hydrated to keep our organs working and drinking plenty of water will keep any mucus (phlegm) loose. Sometimes we eat less in the summer, so again, keeping hydrated is so important.
Take precautions: It's not always possible to take all precautions, but it is possible to take some. For example, if you know you suffer from hayfever you'll know to get the antihistamines ready. Also, have an emergency pack of antibiotics and steroids. If you're also on oxygen then have some extra as back up.
Keep your home cool: Sometimes it is difficult to keep your home cool, I think a lot depends on where you live and the kind of property you live in. You can keep your curtains and blinds closed during the day when the sun is out. Also, if you have air conditioning, be sure to use it when you can. An electric fan at the side of you can work as well.
Don't panic: Easy to say, NOT easy to do. Life is hard enough when living with COPD, but having COPD in a heatwave when the temperature climbs and you're struggling to breathe is tough. Make sure you have some cold damp clothes at hand to place on your face and chest. Have phone numbers that you need at hand and always have an overnight case packed at all times, especially if you're unlucky enough to of had a few hospital stays. Being overprepared is better than being unprepared.
Take the hot humid days a bit slower and listen to your body, the washing can definitely be done another day!
Which of the following best describes your COPD diagnosis?