Cold weather can cause difficulties for anyone, but for people with COPD, changes in the weather can affect their health. Whether it is too hot or too cold, these changes can trigger symptoms.
You must brave the cold for many reasons, such as going to work, walking to your car or enjoying the outdoors.
Here are ways for you and your lungs to stay warmer with these 3 tips for dealing with COPD in the cold winter months.
1. Dress for the Cold
Apologies if this seems obvious, but if you haven’t already done so for COPD in winter, invest in some clothes you can wear in layers. Try clothes like long-sleeved undershirts and long underwear.
An extra layer or two can help you stay warm and comfortable, and wearing layers means you can better adjust to changing temperatures instead of relying on a heavy coat. When your layers make you too warm, you can simply take a layer off.
If you’re not accustomed to wearing a scarf, give it a try. It’s amazing how far a bit of comfort around your neck can go, and the warmer you keep your body’s core, the better you’ll be able to breathe, especially when you’re wearing the best cold weather clothing.
2. Wear a Mask for COPD in Winter
If you have a chronic lung disease, you know how changes in the weather affect your health. Cold air can aggravate COPD symptoms, so wearing a mask designed for people with lung disease could help you breathe more easily.
While more studies are needed to see if wearing a mask will ease cold weather and COPD in winter symptoms, many organizations encourage people with COPD and lung disease to wear them.
Masks are made by companies like Psolar, ColdAvenger and PolarWrap, among others. Different designs and material options are available, but many companies use polar fleece, double layer fleece, neoprene or a combination of fabrics and materials.
One commonly recommended mask for people with COPD is the CT Mask, made by Air Guard Medical Products, Co. The CT Mask was made to give people with lung disease the ability to breathe warm, moist air outdoors in cold weather.
The thermal exchange module captures the heat and moisture from your exhaled breath and then transfers the warm, moist air into your next inhaled breath. No matter what type of mask you try, remember to discuss your options with your doctor before using the mask.
3. Keep Oxygen Tubing Warm
If you use supplemental oxygen, you might notice that the oxygen becomes colder when you go outside in cold weather. Take proactive steps to keep your lungs warm by keeping your oxygen tubing under warm clothing.
Your body heat will help keep the oxygen from becoming so cold. Combined with wearing a mask designed for people with lung disease, these measures could help you breathe more easily and feel more comfortable outside with COPD in winter.
Staying warm in cold weather can be a challenge for anyone, but staying warm is essential for better lung function for someone with COPD.
From wearing warm clothing to trying a specialized mask to keeping your oxygen hoses under your clothes, there are many ways to help you successfully manage the cold with COPD in winter.
Christine Kingsley, APRN is the Health and Wellness Director at the Lung Institute where she focuses on providing helpful online resources for people looking for information on various lung diseases, breathing exercises, and healthy lifestyle choices. She advocates for holistic care that involves working with your doctor to explore all options including traditional and alternative care while focusing on diet and exercise as proactive measures.