Respiratory disorders like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD, Chronic Bronchitis, Emphysema, or Asthma are significant health burdens. Currently, more than 25 million people in the US suffer from asthma and COPD is the 4th leading cause of death in the United States. If these disorders are left untreated, they can be particularly life-threatening. Of course, with a treatment plan, it’s possible to manage your respiratory disorders.
Because it’s difficult to do many activities while living with one of these disorders, they detrimentally affect the quality of life for those suffering as well as their families and loved ones. In the summer months, it can be particularly difficult because heat and humidity directly affect air quality and thus, one’s ability to breath clearly and easily. Consider these tips to manage your respiratory disorder this summer.
It’s not uncommon that the weather plays a large part in respiratory disorders or lung conditions like asthma, COPD, and emphysema. Hot, humid air promotes allergens like dust mites and mold and in the heat, particles of air pollution, pollen, and ozone thrive, irritating sensitive airways. You’ll find you have a more difficult time managing your symptoms if you’re caught off guard. Take a look at the weather report before leaving in the morning if you know that your symptoms are triggered by heat and hot weather. Make it a habit to check the local pollen count and Air Quality Index as well to keep track of airborne allergens.
Additionally, pay attention to the barometric pressure, which often drops as summer storms move in. Thinner air means less oxygen, which spells trouble for those with COPD and asthma. If there is poor air quality, the pollen count is high, or the temperature has skyrocketed, it might be best to stick to indoor activities. Avoid spending long periods of time outside if you can help it. At the very least, limit your exposure to the outdoors for the morning hours or the late evening in order to avoid the hottest parts of the day (between 11 AM and 3 PM.) To control the air quality indoors, keep your windows shut, use the air conditioner, and make sure that you’ve replaced your filters.
2 Be Prepared
If you can’t completely avoid all of your triggers, it’s important to stay prepared with the medications and/or relievers you may need should you experience an attack. Make sure that you’re keeping up with any prescription medications as this will help control some of your symptoms. Additionally, keeping an inhaler with you at all times will ensure that you’ll be prepared. Medications should stay close by, but cool. This means you should avoid placing them in direct sunlight or in places that can easily overheat.
Exercise can be a trigger for respiratory disorders as well. In the summer, it’s especially important to be prepared. Bring whatever you need to cool down if you’re symptoms become a major hindrance. If you don’t have access to a gym, there are still ways to stay fit and work out. Be careful and remember to check in with your body. If you must exercise outside in the heat, know your limits and don’t push yourself too hard. Take frequent breaks, keep your reliever close by, and warm up and cool down appropriately. Lather on sunscreen as well. With the heat comes shortness of breath, and your body has a more difficult time cooling down when sunburnt.
3 Make a Plan
Create an asthma action plan (3) with the help of your doctor. This plan will help you determine ways to act quickly should your symptoms arise. It is personalized, based on your triggers and your experiences — it’s also one of the best tools for asthma self-management. Once you’ve developed your plan, you should have an easier time recognizing a flare-up before it happens. You’ll also find that you’ll be able to manage these symptoms before they get out of control.
4 Stay Hydrated
This goes without saying, but it’s so important to drink lots of water and stay hydrated when you’re outside in hot weather. A recent study found that dehydration can worsen symptoms of asthma and even allergies. The lack of water vapor in the lungs causes the airways to constrict and the lungs to produce mucus. This can easily cause an attack. Chronic dehydration can eventually lead to other breathing problems like chronic bronchitis. It’s important to keep your nasal passages, bronchial tubes, and lungs moist by drinking plenty of water.
Filter your water. Chlorine and fluorine trigger spasms in the bronchi of the lungs and difficulty breathing. By drinking at least 8 eight-ounce glasses of water every day, you’ll find you have an easier time staving off the symptoms of asthma and other respiratory disorders. Carry water with you. Eat foods with high water contents. Drink a glass before each meal to increase your water intake (and consume fewer calories).
5 Consult a Doctor
Obviously, the first step in treating your respiratory disorder is talking to your doctor to solidify a treatment plan that is right for you. Likely, you’ve been in contact to develop strategies to manage your symptoms already. Still, these disorders are ever changing. Sometimes, triggers adapt. What might bother you one year could feel fine the next and so on. It’s important to check in with your body, to come to recognize all of the symptoms of your disorder. If you find that the summer season is worsening your symptoms, take another visit to a health care professional to evaluate your prescriptions. A professional can adjust your treatment plan to help you find the one that is right for you.
Lingering chest pain, difficulty breathing, and a stubborn cough are nothing to ignore. Don’t leave these potentially life-threatening signs unchecked for too long. A health care professional should be able to develop an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan in no time. In these summer months, it’s especially important to be proactive. If you find yourself experiencing these symptoms or an attack, call Abba Medical Transportation. Our team of well-trained staff and fleet of vehicles are ready to provide all your needs.