As the mercury rises during the summer, the heat and humidity that accompany the summer months can exacerbate problems for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients. Higher humidity levels and temperatures in excess of 90 degrees Fahrenheit can trigger COPD symptoms and elevate the risk of a flare-up.
When the weather is hot, the body must work harder to keep cool, which requires more oxygen. For COPD-sufferers having difficulty getting enough oxygen, the hot weather can be tough. Avoid overheating and flare-ups during the summer with these six simple tips:
- Keep the humidity under control – The ideal humidity level varies depending on the person, but most people feel comfortable with a humidity level around 40 percent. Keep an eye on the humidity level in your home by purchasing a hygrometer, which measures the amount of moisture in the air. A hygrometer can be purchased at a hardware store to monitor humidity levels. Also, a humidifier can regulate the humidity in your home and drastically improve the air you breathe.
- Stick to the air-conditioning – Stay indoors with the air-conditioner on the hottest days. Counterintuitively, the most dangerous heat waves occur in more northern cities where people are less likely to have central air conditioning. Stick to the early morning or evening to avoid the hottest parts of the day while running errands. If your home does not have air conditioning, visit a library or movie theater to cool down. Many cities will open cooling centers to the public during the worst heat waves.
- Stay hydrated- Drinking water to maintain proper hydration helps regulate body temperature. It also helps the body produce thinner mucus, which is easier to expel from lungs and airways.
- Check the air quality report – While most people check with the weather, patients with COPD should also check the air quality report. Air pollutants combined with hot weather can make breathing twice as difficult for those with COPD. You can check air quality daily online.
- Dress for the heat – You probably know to leave the long pants and jacket in the closet, but stick to lighter colors and loose-fitting clothing to stay comfortable. Cotton or wicking fiber shirts will also help beat the heat.
- Avoid heavy meals – Heavy meals take more oxygen to digest, and for those with COPD, that means even less oxygen is pumped through the blood. Keep meals light, and enjoy a cold soup or salad instead of hot or spicy foods.
Visit the Lung Health Institute
Many who suffer from COPD have experienced an improved quality of life after receiving lung restoration treatment. If you or a loved one suffers from a lung disease like COPD, the Lung Health Institute might be able to help. Contact one of their patient coordinators today to see if you qualify for lung restoration treatment.