Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD, is a lung disease usually related to chronic bronchitis and emphysema. For those with COPD, summertime can be especially tough, as the warm weather demands more care on the part of the patient to prevent serious physical complications. Here’s what you need to know about managing COPD during the summer months.
Why Are the Summer Months so Uncomfortable for COPD Sufferers?
COPD patients often complain of exacerbated symptoms during the summer, including:
Those with COPD know the term “Dyspnea” all too well, as it refers to the shortness of breath so common among COPD patients. To make matters worse, our bodies typically kick into overdrive in the hot summer months, in an attempt to cool us off. This extra work requires more oxygen, which can lead to shortness of breath.
Even those not suffering from a respiratory condition may still experience difficulties breathing in extremely hot weather. Add in a COPD diagnosis, and the summer months can be an exercise in airway management. For those with COPD, breathing in hot air can cause bronchospasms, which is when your bronchial tubes contract and spasm. This results in a smaller airway passage and more effort expended to take a breath.
The summer months are a great time for outdoor recreation, increasing exposure to environmental triggers that can cause adverse reactions. Whether it’s smoke from your barbecue grill, paint fumes from a home renovation project, or dust and dirt from the backyard, the summer months can quickly introduce irritants that can worsen COPD symptoms.
How to Minimize Heat-Related COPD Complications
While you can’t change the summer heat, you can adjust how you prepare for warm-weather days. Keep these steps in mind to minimize your COPD symptoms this summer:
You’ll likely sweat a lot more over the summer, so make sure to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. It is recommended to drink 80-100 ounces of fluids per day, spaced out approximately 8-ounces per hour to maximize hydration. If your activity level is greater than normal, add three to four ounces per hour to your hydration schedule.
Check the Forecast
As mentioned earlier, you can’t control the weather, but you certainly can plan your activities and outings around it. Stay indoors on days exceeding 90-degrees (if possible), minimize physical activities on sweltering days, and don’t overdress if you do have to go out. Start and end the day with a cool shower to help control your body temperature and rid your body of any outdoor contaminants.
Keep Your CPAP Working Properly
If you’re using a CPAP device to manage your COPD symptoms, make sure that it is still operating at peak efficiency. Replace your CPAP equipment at recommended intervals, and consult your CPAP manufacturer if anything isn’t working appropriately. You may also want to consult with your physician to see if your CPAP treatment plan should be adjusted over the warm summer months.
COPD sufferers and patients with a Sleep Apnea diagnosis are often in a similar boat when it comes to managing the summer’s warmer months. In fact, nearly 15% of COPD patients also have a Sleep Apnea diagnosis, a condition called “overlap syndrome.” It is vital that you keep managing COPD and Sleep Apnea symptoms for a healthy, happy summer.
Daniela has researched and published over 60 articles covering topics that aim to inform and empower people living with Sleep Apnea. As an avid reader and researcher, Daniela continues to grow her knowledge about Sleep Apnea and CPAP therapy everyday with the help of coworkers, CPAP.com customers, and members of other CPAP communities online.