5 Tips for Coping Better in Hot Weather

If you are suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), you know that the weather conditions might make life a bit difficult for you, especially when it’s humid outside. On hot summer days the environment will most likely be more humid; similarly when it is cold, the air will be drier.

Extreme temperatures, low or high, will have an effect on breathing. In general, minimal humidity levels are best for COPD patients. About 40% humidity is ideal. But why does humidity affect the body so much? Our bodies try to maintain a normal body temperature, which is about 98.6 F or 37 degrees Celsius. When we are exposed to hot temperatures we have to work harder to stay cool, making our bodies demand more oxygen. If you have COPD you are already using a lot of energy just to breathe. Therefore, you might experience a greater level of shortness of breath when exposed to extreme temperatures because your body has to use more energy to maintain a safe body temperature. Another factor to keep in mind is that your bronchial tubes can tighten up when you are breathing in hot air, making it harder to move air in and out of your lungs, increasing shortness of breath and making it harder to breathe.

Tips for coping better in hot weather:

  • Drink Plenty of Water. Even if you’re not thirsty, try to drink two quarts of water a day.

  • Plan Your Activities. If you have to go outside, go out in the early morning or later at night, after the sun goes down.

  • Don’t get into a Hot Car. If possible, park in shady areas. When it’s hot, set up sun protectors in your car.

  • Stay Cool. If at all possible, stay indoors in an air-conditioned building. If you don't have air conditioning, go to places that do; the library, the mall, a coffee shop, bookstore, or a friend or family member's home that is air conditioned. Take a cool shower or bath to lower your body temperature.

  • Exercise Smart. Avoid outdoor exercise during hot days. Stay inside, and at the very least, do your stretches and resistance or weight training.

  • If you’ve been diagnosed with COPD and you reside in an area that has a high humidity, you might need to reconsider and move to an environment with drier air. Although this move might not entirely eliminate your symptoms, it will make a big difference and help to prevent flare-ups. Remember to always visit a new location before you decide to relocate, to see if it might affect your health.

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