For those suffering from COPD, you may notice your symptoms getting worse during the winter months. Cold weather conditions are known to aggravate COPD symptoms. Winter and cold weather, even a slight chill, can trigger respiratory problems, causing increased mucus, coughing, tightness of the chest and shortness of breath.
The best safeguard against your COPD symptoms worsening during the winter months is to avoid the cold air as much as possible. However, this isn’t always possible, so here are some ways to protect yourself and your lungs this year.
- If you go outside, use a scarf. If you cover your nose and mouth and breathe through your covered nose, the air will warm before it enters your lungs. As trivial as this sounds, the simple act of wearing a scarf can protect your lungs from the shock of cold air.
- Avoid sick people and wash your hands. Since the lungs of those living with COPD are already compromised, it is important to avoid any interactions with triggers that could make COPD worse or cause infections. This is especially important during winter when colds and the flu are prevalent. If you have COPD, try to avoid sick people and get a flu shot every year to prevent getting sick yourself.
- Keep oxygen tanks warm. If you use supplemental oxygen, you may notice that when the air outside gets colder, the air in your oxygen tank gets colder, as well. To combat the dangers of sending cold air into already weakened lungs, it’s critical to keep your oxygen tank and hose warm. Do this by putting the hose under your clothes or a blanket. This will warm the air before it gets to the lungs, lessening the risk of shock and strain on the lungs.
- Use a humidifier, and clean it often. Since dry air can often be a trigger for COPD, it’s important to keep moisture in the air. Using humidifiers during the dry winter months is helpful for COPD patients. However, it’s vital to keep the humidifier clean at all times—this maintains its optimal function and discourages mold and other irritants.
- Be cautious when heating your home. For most people, there’s nothing better than cozying up next to a warm fireplace when it’s cold outside. For those with COPD, fireplaces can trigger flare-ups and exacerbations. Smoke from fireplaces, candles, and stoves produce lung irritants that can impact breathing.
While coping with COPD can be challenging, especially during the cold months of the year, wintertime can still be safe and enjoyable. Learn how to control symptoms so you can enjoy to cold months ahead.
Palladium Hospice and Palliative Care has a specialized team of caregivers expertly trained in the management of COPD. We help patients and their families learn to cope with this disease and improve their quality of life. For questions about COPD and how we can help, call the compassionate care team at Palladium at 888.502.4646.