As the summer temperatures rise, now is a good time to be aware of the effects that weather extremes can have on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Most people are familiar with the fact that COPD symptoms can flare up during colder temperatures, particularly when harsh winds and winter-time colds can make wheezing and chronic coughing more intense. Research shows that hospitalizations for COPD spike during colder weather. But did you know summer heat and humidity can have similar negative effects on people with COPD?
When the summer temperatures breach 90 degrees Fahrenheit, the heat index (heat and relative humidity combine to a “feels like”) reaches 90 or above, or smog levels diminish air quality, use these tips to keep your COPD symptoms at bay.
1. Stay hydrated – Fill up your water bottle and drink plenty of water throughout the day. Believe it or not, juice, tea, and soda do not boost hydration—in fact, they tend to lead to dehydration. Aim for at least 8 glasses of water a day and more if you’re sweating more than normal due to higher temperatures or exertion.
2. Opt for air-conditioning – Although being outdoors in summer can bring great joy, it can also cause COPD symptoms to run rampant. Choose indoor, air-conditioned settings when heat and humidity spike. This includes avoiding hot vehicles, like cars and subways.
3. Check the heat index and air quality – Both the heat index and air quality ratings can be good indicators of whether or not it’s a good day to venture outdoors. Should either the heat index or air quality marks become too high and you risk an outdoor venture, prepare for a flare-up by bringing the proper medication, medical supplies, and have your physician’s number on hand.