The Dangers of Summer
Hot fun in the summertime
When days of being cocooned in a thick fleece, hood and scarf, and full winter clothing to walk to the car, or visit the mall have passed. Summer to me means wearing light clothing, enjoying the warm sunshine, and venturing out for the day on a photographic mission, taking lots of pictures. Days to the seaside, and travel all beckon during summer. But for some, summer can spell danger.
The strains of summer
Many COPD'ers live in hot parts of the world. Arizona, like most southern states of the USA, has blistering summer heat. Leaving little choice but to stay indoors with the air conditioning on for some - sitting it out while waiting for fall, and cooler days to arrive.
Others increasingly have watering eyes and sneeze as breathing becomes worse, caused as pollen allergies given off by plants, and trees, increase. Heat often makes it harder to breathe as our bodies need increased oxygen during times of high temperatures. Humidity can cause exacerbation. We have much to be aware of during our summer months.
Harder work, more oxygen
Humidity, heat, wind, pollen, cold, all have an effect on us. Little wonder we find it so hard at times. High temperatures send your body into overdrive as it tries to regulate your core temperature. The harder your body has to work to do this, the more oxygen you will need.
Keeping cool is essential
During hot days it is essential to keep cool. Even if that means staying indoors with the air conditioning on. If you do not have air conditioning, and you often have hot days during summer, it might be worth considering buying a portable air conditioning unit, or air filter. Do not forget either that it is ever more essential during times of heat to stay hydrated, and to drink plenty of water. Guidelines recommend you need at least 8 glasses of water per day.
Have your inhaler ready
Always have your fast-reacting inhaler with you for times when pollen increase. Many plants cause allergies. For me tree pollen in early spring is always a problem. If you are badly affected by allergies, it is best to see your doctor as you may need an antihistamine to help you.
Avoid pollution and humidity if possible
Smog, and air pollutants, make it hard to breathe for us with COPD, and smog is always worse in summer. This presents a real danger and can cause rapid onset of breathing problems, and exacerbation. If possible check your local air quality forecast daily before venturing outdoors. While on hot days with little wind, if possible, avoid cities where pollution is much more likely to become a hazard.
Humidity can be a problem for me as I am sure it is for many of you guys. I wilt when it becomes hot and humid. If you do not have air conditioning, a dehumidifier can help lots during them kind of days. I know my dehumidifier works well for me.
You must still exercise
Don't forget that you must exercise. Even during days when forced to stay at home because of climate. This will mean finding an alternative way to exercise. My favorite is to listen to music while either walking slowly on the spot or slow dancing. Doing this for at least half an hour will help to keep you fit, and help you to breathe easier.
Staying out of trouble
Be ready for summer extremes, to deal with heat stress, and times of high humidity. During very hot spells with high humidity if using oxygen make sure you use it to stay out of trouble.
Breathe easily. And until my next article, stay safe.
Do you live with any sleep disorders (eg. insomnia, RLS, sleep apnea) in addition to COPD?