When summer turns up the heat outside, this can spell trouble for those with COPD. Extreme heat can cause COPD symptoms to worsen, more than anything another type of trigger, even faster than viruses. Keep an eye on your local weather reports for upcoming heat waves, and plan accordingly. Here are 5 simple things you can do to avoid COPD complications from the heat this summer.
1. What to Watch Out For
When you watch the weather report or check on it on the internet, there are few things in particular you should look out for. The heat index counts the heat as well as the humidity. When there is a heat advisory, the best thing to do would be to stay indoors in an air-conditioned area.
2. How to Stay Safe
Have a backup plan just in case you lose power, or if your AC unit breaks down. You should have your air conditioner serviced at the beginning of the summer, so it's clean and working at full capacity. It wouldn't hurt to have to check again right before a heat wave hits.
You should also let your electric company know that you are a senior, so you will be one of the first people to get help during an outage. This is especially important if you use an oxygen machine. Your backup plan can be to call the fire department, or have a friend or family member come get you and take you to a place with electricity and air conditioning.
Do not leave your medication or oxygen therapy equipment out in the sun or a hot car. If you are in a car, have the AC running and use a car window shade.
3. Things to Do
If you need to go outside to do things, wait until the evening or early morning. Between the hours of 6 and 10 in the morning, or 6 and 9 in the evening are the cooler times of the day for any outdoor activities.
If you want to go swimming or take a dip in a pool or lake, do so for only 40 minutes, and then get out of the sun and heat. Use 30 SPF sunscreen, and don't stay in the sun longer than 1 hour when wearing sunscreen, or any longer than 15 minutes if you aren't wearing it.
4. Foods to Eat
Drinking water is most important, especially when it's hot. Be sure to drink at least 8 cups of water a day, or keep refilling a water bottle and keep it by you. Take small sips throughout the day.
Eating cool and juicy foods without a lot of refined sugar is a great treat. Puree watermelon and other fruits and freeze them to make popsicles, or juice them and freeze as ice cubes to put in glasses of water to make cold, flavored water.
5. What to Wear
Lightweight, loose-fitting clothing in light colors is ideal. Skip trying to look glamorous when you go out and focus on being cool and comfortable. If you can do all you can keep your temperature down, it will help you avoid COPD flare-ups.
A hat with a wide brim will help shade you and shield your eyes from the bright sun.
If sandals aren't your thing, get some socks that are designed to keep your feet cooler and drier with breathable material.