Summer weather and heatwaves can be cause for concern, but it can be especially dangerous for those who suffer from chronic lung diseases and rely on oxygen concentrators. Make sure that you and your loved ones are staying safe in the summertime heat so that everyone can breathe easy.
Plan Your Outdoor Time
If you spend time outdoors during the day, try to plan your errands and other outdoor time for early in the morning or late in the evening. The middle of the day is when it is hottest, with the sun high overhead and temperatures soaring, and it can exacerbate any breathing difficulties. When you are outside, make sure that you’re dressed appropriately in light-colored, loose-fitting clothing and a wide-brimmed hat.
Also, keep in mind that oxygen concentrators all have maximum operating temperatures, generally around 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius). For those that live in unusually warm climates, such as the southwest, this is a relatively “low” temperature. Ensure that you only venture outdoors with your oxygen concentrator when it is below the unit’s maximum operating temperature.
Manage Humidity in the Home
Humidity can make it difficult to breathe, as the air is quite heavier. It may sound counterintuitive as many oxygen users attach humidifiers to their oxygen concentrators to not irritate their airways with dry air, but it’s important to maintain a comfortable humidity level in your home to aid in easy breathing. If your home is too humid, turn on a dehumidifier in the room in which you spend the most time. The ideal humidity level in a house should be around 40% to 60%.
You may like lounging outside on the porch, fanning yourself as you enjoy the sunshine, but this can be a dangerous pastime in extremely high heat. Before heading outside, check the temperature and the humidity: if it’s over a certain safe threshold, such as above 80 degrees Fahrenheit with high humidity, stay inside. Make sure that the inside of your home is cool enough, though, with air conditioners or fans situated in the rooms you stay in.
Eating hot, heavy foods in extreme heat will make you feel hotter and heavier. Stick to light, cool meals, eating more frequently rather than three large meals during the day. Watermelon, with its high-water content, is an excellent snack in high heat.
Foods high in protein, fat, and carbohydrates can make you feel warmer, as your body creates heat as it digests these particular foods; this includes meals such as burgers, hot dogs, and other BBQ favorites. Avoid food you have to prepare in front of a barbecue, oven or stove, as even a little time spent in front of a heat source can make you feel uncomfortable.
Making sure that you are drinking enough water is one of the most important rules for the summer. Avoid alcohol and drinks that are considered diuretics, such as coffee, tea, and soda, as they dehydrate you. If you would like to drink something other than water (even after flavoring it with lemon, lime or cucumber), try coconut water, orange juice, and even milk, according to a study from the European Hydration Institute.
Those with lungs that function normally can even feel more easily out of breath when it’s particularly humid out, so it is essential for those with breathing difficulties to make sure they take care of themselves in the summertime.
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