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How to Enjoy Your Summer with COPD

Posted by Erin Lowry on Jun 22, 2018 8:44:15 AM

 

how to enjoy your summer with copd

Yesterday was the first official day of summer, which means kids are out of school and 4th of July (for those of you joining us in the U.S.A.) is less than two weeks away.

It is time to start preparing for family reunions, summer BBQ’s and birthday parties.

Though this time of year can be exhausting, and it can be even more exhausting for those with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

While it is exciting to leave the cold winter behind us, it can still be difficult to enjoy the hot and humid weather.

Those with COPD can struggle to breathe in the hot air and humidity, so summer can be exceptionally rough.

This can make it harder to get chores and work done, as more time and energy is spent cooling down.

We figured out a few helpful tips to help you stay cool this summer, without breaking the bank.

What is COPD and Why It Reacts to Heat and Humidity:

diagram of chronic bronchitis and emphysema

COPD is a degenerate pulmonary disease that is a broad term for diseases like chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

It can make it hard to breathe and causes more energy to be used to breathe, tiring out the patient quicker.

In the summer, a non-COPD person can struggle to maintain a normal body temperature, using a lot of energy to cool down.

COPD patients have an even harder time in the summer, as they are already using a lot of energy to breathe, and even more is outputted to keep cool.

The hot and humid air is also hard to breathe because hot air is more dense than cold air.

This dense air has more pressure, which can make it hard to breathe as the air feels “thick”.

Humidity is also hard on COPD patients as the extra water vapor in the air can make it hard to breathe.

It is also known to increase mold and pollen in the air.

Another reason why hot and humid air can cause flare ups in COPD patients is that allergy season tends to coincide with summer.

Hot Air:

Hot air makes it very hard for COPD patients to breathe, as it can be more dense than cool air.

This density makes it hard to get air in already constricted lungs.

The difficulty to breathe can in turn cause the patient to become more tired, as more energy would need to be exerted to maintain a normal body temperature as well as to breathe.

If you have COPD and have chosen to live in a hot environment, there may be some things you should take into your own hands.

Just because the outside air is hot, does not mean you need to keep your windows open.

Keeping your air conditioning on during the hot months can help your breathing when you are home.

This can give your lungs a mini break when you are not in the heat, allowing your body to regain energy.

It can also be a good idea to invest in a mini travel fan, as well as cooling towels.

Avoiding the hot weather is important, try to stay inside during peak hours, between 11 am and 3 pm.

Humidity:

condensation on window from humidity

Humid air can also wreak havoc on your lungs, as the vast amount of moisture can make it very hard to breathe.

Humidity is not only around when it is summer time, it can occur in your own home.

Showering with the door shut and vent off can make it very hard to breathe, and it can have room for mold and bacteria to grow.

Keeping doors open and vents on can help disperse the humid air, which can make it easier to breathe.

It can also help with your energy levels to sit in a chair in the shower and use a long-handled brush or loofah.

Investing in a dehumidifier is a good choice for those with COPD as well.

A dehumidifier can be used in the home when it is humid outside, making it easier to breathe and ride out the weather until it passes.

If you cannot resist enjoying the summer weather, getting a baby pool with cool water to hangout in the shade can be a fun outdoor activity.

Avoiding the Heat/ Investing in Staying Cool:

As stated above, avoid going outside during peak hours of the day, as it is the hottest part of the day and can cause you to become overheated and exhausted quickly.

It can be beneficial to look at the weather report to see what the weather and pollen count look like for the day, and then planning your day around that.

Investing in a dehumidifier, a window unit air conditioner, fans (small and large) and a cooling towel can all help keep you cool this summer.

If you live in a home that does not have any air conditioning, investing in a window unit can help keep you cool.

It can also be beneficial to have a fan pointed outside through a window, to blow all the hot air out.

If avoiding the hot weather is out of the picture, drinking plenty of water and wearing light clothes can help.

Keeping hydrated will help your body from using too much energy to cool you down, instead the water can cool you down.

Lightweight and light-colored clothing can help keep you cool in the summer as well.

The light clothing will allow a breeze to blow through and keep you cool, the light colors will prevent the sun from beating down on you, as dark colors attract the sun.

Summer To-Do List:

If you want to be out of the house and doing things during the summer, stick to things you can do inside.

A museum or movie are both in a cool environment and can help get you out of the house without melting in the heat.

If you prefer to be outside in the summer, plan around peak hours of the day, and try to plan activities that are not too strenuous.

paddle boarding at dusk

Playing in the pool, or at the beach is a safe way to enjoy the summer without getting overheated.

Going paddle boarding or mini golfing in the evening can be a good way to get out in the summer without being in the hot sun mid-afternoon.

If you workout outside, try and bring your workout inside, or go outside when it is not the peak hours of the day.

Conclusion:

It is very important for COPD patients to stay inside when it is hot and humid out, as they both can worsen the symptoms of COPD.

Heat can make your body work harder to cool down, using a lot of extra energy needed to breathe.

Humidity can add too much moisture to the air, making it hard on COPD patients to breathe.

Remembering to keep air conditioning on, and fans blowing can also help keep you cool in the summer.

If you feel that you get overly hot during the summer, no matter what you do, speak with your doctor.

They may be able to assess the situation based on your medical history and geographical location (as some locations can get warmer and more humid than others). 

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