Cold weather conditions aren’t always friendly for those with COPD.
Living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can be difficult. Add in the exacerbation of symptoms as a result of cold weather conditions and quality of life with the disease can decrease significantly. At its face, cold weather is known to decrease mobility, create more difficult road conditions for travel and further the spread of viruses and disease. However, for those who live with COPD, these unfortunate conditions can be significantly worse as the disease’s general symptoms can serve to weaken the immune system, spark fatigue and leave you breathless even under the best weather conditions. Though alternative options to meet these disease symptoms exist, as those with COPD begin to travel across the country this season, understanding the effects of cold weather on COPD is critical to maintaining one’s health.
With your health in mind, the Lung Institute is here to give you all the information on Cold Weather & COPD: Here’s What You Need to Know.
Cold Weather & COPD
It should come as no surprise that cold weather and COPD hospital admissions have a definitive link. Cold weather can have a dramatic effect on the lungs with the capability of making significant changes to the respiratory system under chronic exposure. At its worst, cold weather and COPD can cause you to experience shortness of breath while putting you at a higher risk of getting sick. Further still, cold weather can often be synonymous with strong winds—key factors in COPD exacerbations during the winter.
How the Cold Affects Your Body
The danger of cold weather rests primarily in the relationship between the lungs and the heart. As temperatures begin to drop to extreme lows, the blood vessels of the heart slowly start to narrow ultimately restricting blood flow and depriving the heart of oxygen. With the hearts reduced ability to deliver oxygen-rich blood to the lungs and the rest of the body, your ability to breathe is similarly affected. Worse still, as the blood vessels of the body begin to narrow, the heart is simultaneously forced to pump harder, which in turn leads to increases in blood pressure.
Windy Conditions & COPD
As we mentioned earlier, cold weather is often synonymous with windy conditions which can have significant effects on the lungs. As wind can provide physical resistance when walking or standing outside, this physical pressure can have a large effect on not only mobility but breathing, too. As wind increases under cold weather conditions, humidity can often increase as well, ultimately leading to an increase in sputum production. This increased phlegm can be dangerous as it can create further blockages in the lungs and make breathing more labored and difficult.
Combatting Cold Weather & COPD
With a clear understanding of how cold weather can affect your COPD symptoms, the next step is knowing how to improve your respiratory health during these long winter months. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you prepare for cold weather with COPD:
- Avoid burning wood on stoves or fireplaces to prevent smoke build-up
- Adjust your schedule to avoid poor weather conditions
- Wash your hands often to avoid catching the flu
- Keep your oxygen hose under your coat to keep the air as warm as possible
- Use a scarf or face mask to warm the air outside before it enters your lungs
It’s important to know the road ahead in the treatment of COPD. Although COPD can seem insurmountable, new discoveries are being made every day in the field of stem cell research, and the first step to living a longer life is finding a treatment that addresses the disease head-on. Changing one’s diet and consistently exercising are among the best lifestyle changes one can do aside from quitting smoking. It may be time to consider stem cell therapy. Rather than only addressing the symptoms of lung disease, stem cell therapy may affect disease progression and may improve quality of life and pulmonary function. For people with lung disease, a change in quality of life could mean the difference between struggling to walk to the mailbox and riding a bike.
If you or a loved one suffers from a chronic disease like ILD, COPD, pulmonary fibrosis or other symptoms of lung disease, the Lung Institute may be able to help with a variety of adult stem cell treatment options. Contact us today at (800) 729-3065 to see if you qualify for stem cell therapy, and find out what stem cell therapy could mean for you.
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