As most of us already know, the typical symptoms of a COPD exacerbation include shortness of breath and a phlegm-producing, productive cough. Many people find that their symptoms worsen in the winter months due to the cold, but oftentimes the summer months can bring about flare ups, as well.
With the summer months come heat, humidity, allergens and air pollution. Any of these factors may increase one’s risk of a COPD exacerbation!
When the temperature outside rises our bodies use additional energy in order to cool ourselves down. With this increased energy need comes an increase in the amount of oxygen that our bodies require. As a result, our blood oxygen levels may drop, which makes us feel short of breath.
Humidity might also have an adverse effect on one’s COPD by adding “resistance” to the air we breathe. Airborne allergens also have a tendency to increase with the extra moisture in the air. Smog and air pollution have the potential to be irritants or triggers, also. Any of these factors may increase one’s risk of a flare up.
So, what’s a COPDer to do? Prevention is the best medicine! Keep track of your symptoms and seasonal temperature changes year-round, so that you’ll be prepared and know what to expect in the future; stay out of the heat and keep cool; also, it might be wise to limit your activity level. Most importantly, check with your doctor, because what works for one person, might not work for another! And remember: when you breathe easier, we breathe easier!