Enjoying the Summer With COPD


Common seasonal activities such as basking in the sun, biking or barbecues can be difficult for those who have difficulty breathing. Outdoor activities can bring serious problems for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) which is an umbrella term for long term conditions including chronic asthma, bronchitis and emphysema. The simplest outdoors activities can bring on a COPD flare up.

When temperatures rize humidity, heat and air quality are apt to trigger COPD flare ups. Though this lung disorder is incurable there are ways for the patient to minimize their symptoms.

In the summer heat your body has to work harder to use more oxygen to keep your body cool. COPD patients can face dangerous health complications in the heat of summer. Dyspnea is one condition that includes tightening in the chest, labored breathing, bronchial spasms, increased coughing. This can become so serious that the patient needs to be hospitalized.

Most individuals with COPD understands their lungs and temperature tollerence and they know when the weather is just to extreme for them to be outside. Usually weather getting up in the 90’s is too hot and they need to avoid being outside.

Don’t leave your medications in the hot car, store them in a dry, cool place. Use long-acting bronchodilators which can reduce symptoms for 12-24 hours or quick relief medicines that will last 2-4 hours. And check local weather in your area and make your daily plans accordingly. Run errands or have outdoor activity when the weather will be cooler or in the mornings before it gets hot.

Drink plenty of chilled liquids. By keeping well hydrating it thins the mucos and makes it easier to clear your lungs. Wear light and breathable clothing. Or wear layers so you can take one off to cool off if needed. Use a mister if you are going to be out at a picnic or barbecue. One that is available from Amazon is MistyMate.

According to a study published in the Proceedings of the American Thoracic Society May of 2008 air quality worsens in the summer and can cause severe flare-ups known as acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or AECOPD.

Ozone, which is a colorless gass produced by power plants and vehicle exhause can be a problem for COPD patients. Some small air particles, or particulates, can reach the trachea(the tube which brings air to and from the lungs)and cause inflammation.

The study also found that air pollution may cause about 9% of hospitalizations for AECOPD.

There are two free air quality services you can get email alerts. Those are Air Quality Index or Enviroflash. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says that when it reaches the moderate level of 51-100 it is a good idea to limit your time outdoors. When it reaches 100 you would need to limit your time outdoors and 150 stay indoors.

Poorly maintained air cleaners or air conditioners can cause COPD flare-ups. Dirty air filters can cause dust mites and mold to build up. Make sure the system is kept clean. Filters should be changed every three months. And check HEPA cleaner instructions for changing it. And set your car air conditioner to “recirculate”.

There are newer model air cleaners that use ultraviolet light to kill bacteria, fungus spores, and other germs which run between $150 to $4000.

Continue to exercise for that is crucial to your independence. Anything from walking around the mall to stay cool to swimming or working out at the gym. Or a pedal or treadmill type bike at home.

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