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Managing COPD in the Summer

older male trouble breathing outdoors

If you’re among the 16 million Americans who are living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), you’re likely very familiar with the disruptive coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath this condition can cause. These symptoms, combined with sweltering temperatures, seasonal allergies and rising humidity levels, can quickly spoil any summer plans and make living a normal, active life more difficult. Let’s review some basic ways you can better manage your COPD symptoms during hot weather and enjoy more of your summer.  

Breathe Easier This Summer   

Summer’s high temperatures are tough on everyone. Hot and humid weather forces the body to work harder to cool off and maintain a normal temperature, which requires additional oxygen intake. Breathing in more oxygen isn’t easy for people with COPD. Plus, warm air can further exacerbate airways (bronchi) and cause them to contract, making it even more challenging to breathe in enough air. 

Nevertheless, it is entirely possible to partake in the occasional summer party, picnic or evening stroll if you have COPD. In addition to following your physician’s guidance, consider these recommendations: 

Be Mindful of Your Time Outdoors 

It’s important to choose your outdoor time wisely during the summer. Tune into daily weather reports and try to avoid going outside when the heat index and humidity levels are particularly high. Also, pay close attention to air pollution advisories, and opt to run errands or attend gatherings during the morning or evening hours, if possible. 

Purchase a Small Dehumidifier

If you live in an area that is especially humid, simply opening the door to get a package can cause steamy air to pour into your house. Consider investing in a small dehumidifier for your home to help you breathe easier during the summer months. 

Don’t Ignore Seasonal Allergy Triggers   

Allergies are no joke—especially during the spring and summer. And because summer plants and allergies tend to worsen COPD, it’s important to know what allergens trigger your symptoms and take steps to avoid them. Speak with your doctor about allergy testing and what lifestyle adjustments and/or medications may be able to help. 

Stay Hydrated 

Hydration is a key component of regulating body temperature. While you probably know the importance of drinking enough fluids during the summer, rising temperatures and life’s hectic pace can quickly lead to dehydration. Be sure to drink eight full glasses of water every day. If you need to leave home, bring along a water bottle or thermos. 

Dress Appropriately  

Fashion trends can wait until the fall. Prioritize comfort over style during the summer to help keep you cool. When going outside, choose clothes made from lightweight, breathable, light-colored fabrics that won’t trap in heat. 

Cool Off  

Sometimes, cooling off is as simple as taking a cold shower or bath. You can also regulate your body temperature by taking a dip in a pool or even hosing yourself off! Ice packs and cooling towels are other helpful tools if you need to run an errand or go outside in hot weather.  

Don’t Skip Exercise 

Engaging in low-impact physical activity (in accordance with your physician’s guidance) is key to managing your COPD and improving your respiratory health. And, sweltering temperatures are no excuse to skip your workout routine. Try moving your workouts indoors during the summer months. Staying active is important, even if that means simply walking in place or lifting light weights while watching your favorite TV show. 

DispatchHealth is Here to Help 

DispatchHealth offers on-demand, in-home health care to individuals with COPD and other chronic medical conditions that can make trekking to an urgent care clinic or physician’s office difficult—especially as the COVID-19 crisis continues to impact our way of life. We can treat everything an urgent care clinic can, plus more, and have the expertise and equipment necessary to assist COPD patients with more complex health needs. 

dispatchhealth team walking outside

If you need treatment for COPD symptoms or another medical concern and don’t want to brave the summer heat, DispatchHealth is here to help. Simply request care over the phone, on our app, or online, and a qualified medical team will promptly arrive at your doorstep to provide the assistance you require. We cater to patients of all ages, offer affordable rates, and accept most health insurances. 

Sources

DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies. 

Sources referenced in this article: 

  1. https://www.emphysemafoundation.org/index.php/living-with-copd/97-therapeutic-toolbox-articles/224-managing-copd-in-the-summer#:~:text=The%20following%20recommendations%20can%20help,to%20become%20short%20of%20breath.
  2. https://www.verywellhealth.com/copd-the-heat-is-on-914679
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/copd/index.html

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