The official blog of the Lung Institute.
How does the Season Affect your Disease
People who suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have a laundry list of things they need to avoid to decrease symptom flare-ups. They have to avoid breathing in second-hand smoke and rooms with too much dust in the air. Another thing that COPD patients need to avoid is the heavy amount of pollution that is in the air during the winter months from the burning of wood and other fuels for heating. Knowing how to prepare for winter with COPD can make a difference with your quality of life.
COPD and Winter Weather
The winter weather itself does not make having COPD any easier. For people who live in an area that sees heavy snowfall and cold days, they face an extreme environment each time they exit the house. Walking outside in the cold wind and through the snow is very trying for someone with COPD. The cold weather evaporates energy from a healthy person, someone with COPD is already constantly tired, so any added strain is very difficult. The use of indoor heating is very common during these months as well. Unfortunately, the heat commonly causes the air to dry out in your home very quickly, which means trouble for people with COPD. They need to have a regulated amount of humidity in the home to help keep their lungs functioning as optimally as possible.
Pollution Increases During the Winter
People do not commonly associate the winter months with an increase in pollution, but when it comes to short-term particle pollution, there is much more in the winter than the summer. Short-term particles refers to an occurrence of spikes in particle pollution. These spikes can last hours or even days. While the amount of year-round particle pollution has seen a drop in recent years, the amount of short-term particles has increased. These pollutants are usually from increases in fuel burning for heating purposes during the winter, and more likely than not, are comprised of burnt wood particles. If exposed to heavy amounts of short-term particle pollution, the outcome can be swift and deadly for someone with a lung disease. Heavy coughing, trouble breathing and shortness of breath are seen in even minor exposures.
People suffering from COPD need to be very cautious during the winter months. It is smart to keep a room humidifier in your living room to help regulate the humidity in the air. Also, try not to go outside too often, the pollution level will be high and the cold weather can cause you extra fatigue. Lastly, it may be beneficial to wear an air pollution masks can improve your air quality immediately.
If you or a loved one is living in a place where the winters are particularly harsh, like Buffalo, a trip to the Lung Institute in Florida may be a needed escape for you and your lung health. Contact us for a free consultation or call us at (800) 729-3065.