The official blog of the Lung Institute.
For people living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cold weather concerns them. They often experience worsened COPD symptoms during cold weather, such as increased shortness of breath, coughing, fatigue and wheezing. To help you stay healthy and active during these winter months, we’ve put together a few simple ways to cope with COPD symptoms during cold weather.
5. Exercise Indoors
Exercise remains an important part of any COPD treatment plan, and it helps people with COPD stay active. COPD symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughing and fatigue make it difficult to have the motivation to exercise. Even during pleasant weather days, exercising for COPD patients can be challenging. When COPD symptoms have worsened because of cold weather, many people understandably choose not to exercise.
However, not exercising is not a good idea. Try taking your exercise routine indoors. Stay warm, safe and comfortable in your home while you exercise, so you don’t have to worry about exercising in the cold weather. If you typically go to a gym and use specialized machines to workout, ask your doctor or a trainer at your gym to teach you exercises you can do in your home.
4. Wear Warm Clothes
Avoid worsening your COPD symptoms during cold weather by wearing warm clothes. An easy way to do this is to dress in layers. Wearing layers helps keep your body warm and comfortable. Try layers of long-sleeved shirts, long underwear and fleece-lined or thermal-style clothes. Consider investing in a winter coat, a scarf, gloves, socks and insulated boots as well.
If you have to go to the store or run a few errands, wearing these kinds of clothes will help keep you and your lungs warmer.
3. Try a Cold Weather Mask
Breathing in cold, dry air without warming it first can irritate COPD symptoms. Some people find it beneficial to wear a cold weather mask. Companies, such as Psolar, ColdAvenger and PolarWrap, make various types of cold weather masks.
One popular mask, the CT mask, helps people with chronic lung diseases breathe warm, moist air outdoors in cold weather. Inside the CT mask is a thermal exchange module, which affects a heat exchange cycle, regulating air flow through its chambers. The mask captures the heat and moisture from your exhaled breath inside the module and transfers it into your next inhaled breath as warm, moist, fresh air.
While many people find the CT mask helpful, some people may feel that the mask restricts their airflow, causing them discomfort. Ask for your doctor’s recommendation and advice about the CT mask and other cold weather masks before you try them.
2. Keep Oxygen Tubing Warm
Many people with COPD use supplemental oxygen to help them get enough oxygen. However, you may have noticed that your oxygen becomes colder when you go outside in cold weather. Easily warm your oxygen by keeping oxygen tubing under your clothing. The natural heat created from your body and clothing will help keep the oxygen you’re breathing warmer.
Remember to have your rescue inhaler with you at all times in case of sudden COPD symptoms.
1. Stay Warm with an Electric Space Heater
Avoid using wood burning stoves or fireplaces. People with COPD and other chronic lung conditions are more susceptible than healthy people to smoke-related health issues. Using fireplaces and wood burning stoves cans cause COPD symptoms to worsen in some people. While the majority of the smoke goes into a chimney and outside, some smoke particles may remain in the house. This may irritate your airways, especially when combined with the inhalation of cold air.
Instead of using a wood burning stove or fireplace to stay warm, consider buying an energy-efficient electric space heater. These space heaters can be found at many local retail stores and online.
Taking Care of Your COPD Symptoms during Cold Weather
With these simple ways to cope with your COPD symptoms during cold weather, you’ll be able to keep your lungs warm and enjoy your favorite activities. Keep in mind that if it’s too cold, it’s best to just stay indoors that day. In combination with these tips, healthy lifestyle habits and seeing their doctor regularly, many patients have seen an improvement in their quality of life after having stem cell therapy for COPD. If you or a loved one has COPD, emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis or another chronic lung disease and would like to learn more about stem cell treatment options, contact us at (800) 729-3065.