Cooler Weather COPD Management

Once summer’s heat has receded, and cooler temperatures have returned to the Las Vegas Valley, the call of the outdoors leads many Southern Nevadans outside for activities including exercise. For the patients of Comprehensive Cancer Centers and Lung Center of Nevada with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), being outside requires a certain level of caution.

Caution for those with COPD always starts with air quality as the region’s heat, wind and dust combine to present challenges, not only in the Fall and early winter when being outside is preferable, but all year long.

“We are thrilled when our patients feel healthy and want to get outside to walk, hike or even sit at the park and read a book,“ said Nisarg Changawala, MD, MPH, a physician with Lung Center of Nevada. “We do stress to them, though, that poor air quality may affect those in treatment for lung issues, such as COPD and asthma.”

The American Lung Association annually lists Las Vegas as among the worst cities in the nation for ground-level ozone, the colorless gas that causes smog pollution.  The area regularly sees days when ozone levels are considered unsafe for everyone, not just those with lung health issues.

A recent trend we’ve been seeing during the Fall is the fire season starting earlier and lasting longer, with smoke coming to the Las Vegas Valley from surrounding states such as California, Utah, Arizona and even Colorado. Paying attention to the news is important, as fires from remote places can arrive here in a hurry when driven by seasonal winds.

There are other ways, outside of news media coverage to know what air quality is like with Clark County’s Air Quality website a helpful resource. The service provides alerts and warnings, as well as updates about the short and long-term progress of efforts being made to improve air quality in the region. Additionally, the Environmental Protection Agency’s AirNow website shows air quality in real time.

Once air quality is found to be acceptable for being outdoors, the team at Comprehensive and Lung Center of Nevada offers tips to make sure time outside is healthfully spent:

  • Talk to Us – If under Lung Center of Nevada’s care and looking to get outdoors and active, make sure you consult your physician before getting started. We’re glad to give you honest assessments and provide guidelines to get active safely. Additionally, if you do get outside and active and don’t feel well, do not hesitate to get in contact with your team at Comprehensive and Lung Center of Nevada.
  • Be Aware of Elevation – Being in a valley means being surrounded by mountains. The drive up to Mt. Charleston is quick, but don’t let that fool you with regard to how much higher in elevation it is. Being at a higher altitude may leave you short of breath. Make sure to be mindful of where you’re going and plan to take your time on walks and plan on taking breaks, rather than powering up hills.
  • Get Help Catching Your Breath – If you have access to oxygen; be sure to take it with you when you go outside to get active. Even if you’re just walking around the block, resist the temptation to leave your oxygen at home. And if you’re out away from home, plans can easily change and you can get stuck far from home without your oxygen. It’s best to have it and not need it, then need it and not have it.
  • Consider a Trainer – If you’re outdoor activity is something you want to make a little more rigorous, look into finding a trainer who you can work with you to account for your COPD, while helping you build up to higher levels of activity.
  • Have Fun! – If you are outside and following precautions to the best of your ability, make sure to have fun. Outdoor exercise is good for the mind, body and soul and the team at Comprehensive and Lung Center of Nevada know that combination is important for quality of life.

Lung Center of Nevada Can Help You Manage COPD

Lung Center of Nevada is a team of board-certified pulmonologists, respiratory therapists, nurse practitioners, and administrative support staff dedicated to providing high-quality care to patients with lung disease and sleep disorders. The division adds to Comprehensive Cancer’s multidisciplinary approach by offering more services to patients, especially those with lung and bronchus cancer, which remains the leading cause of cancer deaths in Nevada. To schedule an appointment with the team at Lung Center of Nevada, please call 702-952-3350.