As winter unfolds its festive charm, it also brings in a series of challenges for COPD patients. The frigid weather can quickly exacerbate the symptoms of COPD, and that's a cause for concern. But worry not! To help you tackle these chilly days, we've compiled a handy list of Do's and Don'ts.
But first, let's answer an important question.
Well, the cold air of winter has the effect of narrowing airways, making breathing more challenging, especially when coupled with increased mucus production. Additionally, the dry air further irritates airways, leading to a flare-up of COPD symptoms, including shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing.
Now that you understand the underlying reason, let's explore a list of things to consider and avoid so that cold weather and COPD patients can co-exist in peace.
The cold, dry air coupled with your room heater can swiftly deplete your body's moisture. For people navigating COPD, dehydration can be a serious issue, as it can escalate the symptoms. To prevent such issues, drink plenty of water, and toss in some herbal tea or hot soup to keep your body warm and hydrated.
Based on research, the optimal conditions for COPD patients include a 70-degree Fahrenheit (21-degree Celsius) room temperature with 40% humidity. Cold air often disrupts this balance, making indoor spaces uncomfortable. The solution? Use a humidifier for ideal and comfortable indoor conditions, offering the added benefit of relieving allergy symptoms—a true win-win!
Maintaining an active lifestyle is crucial for individuals managing COPD. Yet, on chilly days, the number of options for physical activities tends to be limited. However, this shouldn't deter you from staying active. Engage in indoor exercise routines and incorporate targeted breathing techniques to keep both you and your lungs in prime condition.
Since we are on the subject of breathing, here's a quick tip for you – try to breathe through your nose instead of your mouth. Why? Because your nasal passage can naturally warm up and moisten the winter air before it reaches your lungs.
Winter isn't a season meant for complete indoor hibernation. When you step into the great outdoors for some fresh air, equip yourself with a cold mask or wrap up your nose and mouth snugly with a scarf. It's a simple move that goes a long way in lessening the impact of chilly air.
Always carry your rescue inhaler and prescribed medications whenever you venture out. If you sense your symptoms are getting worse, seek refuge in a warm, cozy spot for a breather.
Winter's chilly and arid atmosphere becomes an ideal condition for viruses to thrive, just waiting to turn your season sour with the flu. You can save your holiday by taking preventive flu shots and wearing protective masks.
Now, let's move on to the list of don'ts.
Smoking is a big no for COPD patients. It irritates the airway and increases the difficulty in breathing, and combined with the effects of dry air, you have a recipe for serious complications.
A cozy night by the fireplace with hot cocoa in hand may sound dreamy. But you might want to hold off on the wood-burning part. Smoke from the flames can be as irksome as smoking itself. Instead, use an electric blanket or heater to keep warm. Keep in mind, for safety reasons, it's crucial not to use your Portable Oxygen Concentrator or Stationary Oxygen Concentrator near open flames, heat sources, or sparks.
Staying hydrated is key but constrain yourself when it comes to alcohol and caffeine. As thirst-quenching as they seem, taking large amounts of either can lead to rapid dehydration.
If you are a social butterfly, consider scaling back the size of your gatherings. Even with all the preventive steps in place, practicing social distancing remains a wise move to ward off contagious flu.
By incorporating these do's and don'ts into your routine, you'll find it easier to manage your COPD and embrace a healthier, cozier season. Pass on these tips to your friends and family dealing with COPD, so they can also navigate through the winter months with a smile.