Football games, pumpkin patches and the vibrant colors of the fall foliage are some of the perks of fall. We all look forward to the cooler temperatures and outdoor fun, but the weather can bring unwanted irritants for some people. Many patients diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) find their symptoms become worse in cold weather. Dyspnea and wheezing can be scary and possibly dangerous. Here are a few helpful tips to help you enjoy this time of year.
House getting a little chilly?
Stop! Don’t chop that firewood yet. People with COPD can easily irritate their airways with the harmful particles from a fireplace. Instead, try electrical alternatives to keep your house warm.
Don’t light that cigarette!
First off, as a respiratory therapist, I have to say STOP SMOKING! Thousands of toxic chemicals are entering your airways with each puff of a cigarette. Add cold air to that, and it could leave you breathless. If you want to improve your condition and slow the disease process, it’s important that you quit smoking now.
Breathe through your nose and keep it warm!
Breathing through your nose humidifies your air. When it gets colder, try wearing a scarf or other protective gear to warm the air you are breathing in. This will keep the cold air from possibly causing a bronchospasm.
Sweat it to the oldies indoors
It’s strongly advised that COPD patients exercise. Don’t let the cooler temperatures keep you from doing so. Keep it indoors! Try stretching, aerobic exercise, strength training and breathing exercises, such as diaphragmatic breathing and pursed lip breathing.
Inhaler to the rescue!
Talk to your doctor about using a preventive dose of your rescue inhaler before venturing out into the colder temps. Make sure you always have it with you. You never know when you might need it.
Greenville Health System offers a Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program. It is open to any patient who suffers from a disease such as but not limited to asthma, emphysema, pulmonary hypertension, chronic bronchitis, bronchiectasis, lung cancer or pulmonary fibrosis. A doctor’s referral is required for admission. Although the program is supervised a medical director, patients remain under their regular physicians’ care. Patients in the program do not have to change doctors. With a physician’s referral, the program is covered by Medicare and most insurance companies.
For more information, talk to your doctor or call the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program at (864) 455-1540
Kimberly Davis is a registered respiratory therapist (RRT) with Greenville Health System. She is also a member of GHS’ Respiratory Practice Council.