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Winter is Coming

Winter is Coming

I spent my entire life in Southern California until the spring of 2017 when my family and I decided to move to the Midwest. While it was a relatively “mild” winter I was told by the locals, it was definitely a shock to my system. This year, we seem to have gone straight from summer to winter with very little fall. We had some snow flurries yesterday although none of it actually stuck and melted as soon as it hit the ground. This morning when I left my house to drive to work at the hospital, I opened the front door and it was 21 degrees (15 degrees colder than yesterday morning) which hit me like a brick to the face. I immediately found it hard to breathe and while I had remembered to put gloves on, I totally forgot to grab a scarf or mask.

I wanted to share some of the tips that I have learned since moving here when it comes to winter and dealing with bitterly cold temperatures. I am in no way a winter veteran and am still learning as winter decided to show up in my area this past week.

Check the forecast

This seems so obvious but it was one that I completely forgot to do. Now that the seasons are changing I will absolutely be checking the weather often. One thing I was told when we first moved to the Midwest was that if we didn’t like the weather, just wait fifteen minutes because it will change! Boy oh boy is that true!! Try to plan your trips out of the house (to the grocery store, errands, appointments etc) around the weather when possible.

Be Prepared

Dressing appropriately for freezing cold weather is imperative. Dress in layers! Having a thick scarf that you can wrap around your nose and mouth will make it so much easier to breathe. Breathing through your nose instead of your mouth will help warm the air before it gets to your lungs. There are also some really great face masks that can be used instead of a scarf. Also be sure to have your rescue inhaler with you at all times!

Avoid Sick People

Try your absolute best to avoid people who are sick during the winter months. Flu season is underway and while avoidance is the best solution, it isn’t always feasible to not come in contact with people who are sick. It isn’t too late to get your flu shot. Be sure to wash your hands properly and frequently! Getting sick is bad enough, but getting sick and having COPD can be extremely dangerous.

Stay Hydrated

People generally associate the importance with staying hydrated with the hot summer months. It is equally as important to stay hydrated when it is brutally cold. The winter air is extremely dry and can dehydrate your body, including your lungs. Drinking water will help keep this from happening.

Check/Replace Heater Filters

Before you turn on your heater for the first time of the season and periodically throughout winter, check the filters and clean or replace them if necessary. The filters trap dust and any debris and can be blown around your home when the heater is on and blowing. Don’t forget about car air filters as well!

These are just a few things that I have learned so far after my first winter that are helping me be ready for my second Midwest winter. I would love to hear any tips that you have learned for surviving the winter months!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • kckirkwood
    7 months ago

    Oh my good yes!! I thought I was crazy, that it was mostly in my head.
    The cold and wind (and extreme heat) absolutely take my breath away. No pun intended.
    As suggested, I do use my rescue inhaler a few minutes before stepping outside. And the scarf, as well.
    Good information here.

  • Barbara Moore moderator
    7 months ago

    Hi kckirkwood Thank you for your comments. In the parts of the world were we really feel a true winter, you can never be careful enough. It sounds like you know how to take control of your symptoms. Keep up the great work. Barbara (Site Moderator)

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    7 months ago

    Good for you, kckirkwood – nothing like preparing oneself before going out into the winter weather. If you’re prepared properly, you should be able to lessen the impact of these triggers. Keep up the good work! Leon (site moderator)

  • Mendo Bruce
    7 months ago

    Using your rescue inhaler a few minutes before stepping out into the cold air will help minimize the bronchospasms that cause shortness of breath in many patients.

  • Barbara Moore moderator
    7 months ago

    Hi Mendo Bruce, Thank you for your comments. It seems to be a simple thing that many forget. Thank you for your comments. Barbara (Site Moderator)

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    7 months ago

    Hi Mendo Bruce and thanks for the suggestion. That tends to work very well for many people – using the inhaler prior to stepping out into the cold weather. A scarf can also help by keeping your upper airway (nose and mouth) shielded from the cold air. Thanks for your input. Leon (site moderator)

  • Goofy
    7 months ago

    Diagnosed almost three years ago, I have changed
    the initials of COPD to CLC: Chronic Lung Condition. This is a slow and painless ‘disease’.
    My only symptoms are fatigue and mucous. I am 84 years of age and otherwise healthy. Am I just lucky or is this normal?

  • Barbara Moore moderator
    7 months ago

    Hi Goofy, You are one of the lucky one.It is nice to hear that you got lucky. Barbara (site Moderator)

  • Lyn Harper, RRT moderator
    7 months ago

    Hi Goofy –

    Let me assure you, it’s “normal”. The interesting thing about COPD or CLC, as you refer to it, is that your normal may not be someone elses normal. It’s very indivitualized. There are so many factors that contribute to progression and stage and how it affects each person.

    Another thing to consider is your overall health when you were diagnosed. For some, they’ve been healthy overall and are comprimised by other conditions that can exacerbate the COPD. Others already have chronic health problems such as diabetes, chronic heart conditions, etc – all of which make the COPD much harder to deal with.

    I hope that fatigue and mucous are all you have to experience with it. That would be wonderful! Speaking of fatigue, though, here’s an article that you’ll find helpful in dealing with that.

    Lyn (site moderator)

  • KevinDavitt
    7 months ago

    great advice, Theresa. Thank you.

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