The official blog of the Lung Institute.
Now that summer has begun, kids are out of school and loved ones are planning vacations, it’s time to prepare to join in the fun. Everyone loves sunshine and outdoor activities, but for those suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), some precautions are in order. During the warmer months, symptoms normally well under control may be worsened by summer temperatures. Here are some tips for managing heat with lung disease to help you enjoy your favorite outdoor activities.
How Does Summer Heat Affect COPD?
According to the American Lung Association, more than 11 million people living in the United States have been diagnosed with COPD, and an equal number suffer undiagnosed symptoms of this debilitating lung disease. COPD is a broad term used for chronic bronchitis and emphysema, with one of the primary and preventable causes being smoking. People with COPD usually experience chronic coughing, shortness of breath, fatigue, excessive mucus and wheezing. COPD isn’t curable yet, but symptoms can be managed and flare-ups minimized. COPD sufferers should be aware of what can trigger heat-related flare-ups.
Minimizing Heat-Related Issues with COPD
Becoming overheated can put people with COPD at risk for a flare-up. Here are a few tips for staying cool this summer:
- Watch weather reports.
- Plan outings for the coolest days. On hot days, avoid the city, where it’s hotter. If you live in the city, stay in a cool place.
- Check the air quality index (AQI) for daily ozone and particle pollution conditions in your area. You can also check your local weather report or newspaper for AQI information.
- Drink plenty of fluids, even if you are not thirsty or active. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can dehydrate you, and ask your health care provider how much water you should drink when it’s hot.
What else can I do to manage the heat and stay healthy?
While it can be challenging to manage heat, staying as cool as possible during the warmer months will help you feel better. If you go out, spend time at air-conditioned locations. Senior centers, libraries or malls are good options. Remember that if you live or spend time alone, have someone check on you from time to time. Eat frequent small meals instead of large meals. Exercise indoors at a gym, pulmonary rehabilitation center or shopping mall.
Call for medical help for new or worsening symptoms or if breathing difficulty worsens.
With these tips for managing heat with lung disease as well as trying alternative options, such as stem cell therapy, you’ll be able to go outside and enjoy your favorite activities. We’re happy to answer your questions about stem cell treatment options, so feel free to contact us or call (800) 729-3065.