On cold winter days, walking outside can feel like getting hit by a ton of bricks. It’s an especially hard blow to those with COPD.
When temperatures drop, your body undergoes considerable stress. Breathing in cold, dry air causes adverse reactions to the lung airways and respiratory system, and puts a strain on your heart.
Because COPD and cold weather can have such a negative impact on your body, it’s important that you take a few proactive measures and prepare for the onset of the winter cold.
Here are a few tips:
1) Cover up
Whenever possible keep cold air from entering your body. Wearing a scarf or facemask limits the inflow of cold air and allows each breath you take to warm up before hitting your lungs. So when you’re putting on that warm winter jacket make sure to include something that covers your face. Keep your body temperature regulated and you’ll reduce the chances of exacerbating the effects of your COPD.
2) Avoid smoky places, especially wood fires
As if breathing cold air isn’t enough to worry about, you also have to consider the increase in smoky air during winter months. There are lit fireplaces and wood burning stoves practically everywhere you go. They’re aesthetically pleasing but trouble for your COPD. Smoke irritates your lungs and air passages and can cause extreme coughing or wheezing episodes.
3) Keep it humid
Winter air almost always means dry air, both indoors and outdoors. Prolonged exposure can be irritating to your lungs and is a certain cause of flare-ups. Experts recommend you maintain a 40 percent humidity level inside. A humidifier is a necessary and effective tool for those dry indoor months.
4) Watch for flare-ups
Having COPD and breathing cold air can easily lead to an exacerbation of your symptoms. It’s best if you learn to catch the warning signs early on so you can avoid an escalation of your COPD.
Your early warning signs may include increased levels of:
- Shortness of breath or shallow breathing
- Coughing and wheezing
- Tightness in your chest
- Excessive mucus production
- Sleepiness, lethargy, or confusion
Any type of exacerbated symptoms should be taken seriously. Please tell your doctor immediately as your condition may easily worsen.
5) Enhance your air supply
Having access to portable oxygen helps you stabilize your breathing and avoid any aggravated symptoms of COPD. There are a number of portable oxygen concentrators that can travel with you in the winter months. Always protect your oxygen supply hoses from the cold by keeping them covered by your coat or sweater.
6) Stay indoors
Clearly the best way to avoid the cold weather is to stay inside, which should always be considered a necessary option when the temperatures drop. Stay aware of the weather forecasts and schedule your outdoor activities for warmer times of day. Also, take steps to rely on outside assistance for delivery of food and supplies.
Stay aware of the cold temperatures and prepare yourself for dealing with the negative effects of COPD and breathing cold air. You can avoid making your symptoms worse if you take the right steps and protect your lungs during the winter weather. Always consult your doctor if you have questions about your health or the effects of cold air on your COPD.
More information on oxygen concentrators
Remember, Precision Medical provides oxygen concentrators that can help you live a happier, healthier lifestyle with your COPD.
Learn more about our product line of oxygen concentrators or find your local Precision Medical dealer by calling 800-272-7285.