As we head into the warmer months and we rejoice the end of dreary winter days, it is important to remember how the changes in weather can impact your lung condition. Changes to your symptoms and experiencing an increase in breathlessness can occur due to the rising temperatures, wet weather and increase in humidity. Planning ahead for the change in season is an important step in the management of your condition.
Symptoms that are often experienced include cough, shortness of breath, runny nose, irritable eyes and sore throat. If you are affected by the hot weather, there are things you can do to help keep yourself well.
Drinking enough water is essential, however it is important to discuss with your doctor the appropriate amount for your condition as some people may be on fluid restrictions. Avoid drinks that increase dehydration including alcohol, tea and coffee. Eat smaller, cooler meals including foods high in water content such as fruits and salads. Some people will benefit from eating foods that are easily digestible, low in fat and contain carbohydrates and protein. If you are on a specific diet, continue to follow this as directed by your health care professional.
Keep out of the sun
Remember to stay safe in the sun. Avoid going outside during the hottest parts of the day and aim to do activities such as gardening, exercise and housework in the cooler parts of the day. Wear light-coloured and loose-fitting clothes, wide brim hats, sunscreen and sunglasses.
Avoid the heat
Some key tips and tricks to remain cool and avoid the heat in the warmer months include:
- Fill a large sock with rice or place a wet hand towel in a zip lock bag and freeze, you can then place it on or beside you to keep cool.
- Keep a hand held fan (battery operated) handy.
- Take a cool shower and if possible, put a fan in the bathroom to help move the humidity.
- If you have access to a pool, go for a swim (if this is a safe option for you based off advice from your treating healthcare team).
- Keep your house cool by using fans or air-conditioning if you feel comfortable.
- Consider closing the sun blinds or curtains during the day to block out direct sunlight coming into your home.
- Consider spending time at your local library or shopping centre to stay out of the midday heat.
- Some women have shared that not wearing a bra at home decreases breathlessness and helps with staying cool.
- Contact your electricity provider to ask if they offer assistance for running air-conditioners/heaters for your health condition.
Having a plan in place is important. Watch weather forecasts and know who to call if you need help. When you are going out for the day ensure you take your medicines, a hand held fan and plenty of water. Talk with your health care team about your action plan and how you can live well through the warm months. If you don’t have an up to date action plan, speak with your doctor. Download our free template here. If you do not have access to a printer you can contact our Information and Support Centre on 1800 654 301, to be sent a copy of the action plan.
Whether you are exercising at home, through a pulmonary rehabilitation clinic or maintenance exercise class such as Lung Foundation Australia’s Lungs in Action program, it is important to talk to your prescribing exercise professional about how to exercise safely in the heat and to understand any danger signs. Remember to drink water regularly and increase your intake if you are exercising.
For more information on how to manage your lung condition during the warmer months, and to access additional support, resources and information, contact our Information and Support Centre on 1800 654 301.
Lung Foundation Australia sells handheld fans. Not only are these fans are great for keeping cool in the warmer months but research has shown that a cool draft of air from a hand-held fan can be very effective in managing breathlessness.