With the arrival of Summer, it’s time for those with COPD to get ready for the elements to ensure they do well in the challenging climate.
While this year’s winter has seemed to linger, hotter weather is not far off, giving everyone with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) reason to get prepped. For patients of Lung Center of Nevada, a division of Comprehensive Cancer Centers, the weather changes offer a reminder that it’s time to consider the elements.
What is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease?
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a term used to describe progressive lung diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and refractory (non-reversible) asthma. The disease is often initially diagnosed by increasing breathlessness. With COPD, people may have chronic bronchitis, emphysema, or both.
Patients with chronic bronchitis feel like they have a cough or cold that won’t go away. This is due to airways that are swollen and filled with mucus. The muscles that surround airways get tight, too. This tightness can reduce how much air will flow out of, and back into, the lungs.
For patients with emphysema, the condition can quickly get to the point where patients feel tightness in their chest and trouble breathing. This is due to tiny air sacs in the lungs that are damaged. The walls between them get weaker and break down. The small air sacs become larger ones. Air inside these sacs gets trapped because the old air can’t get out, and breathing in new air becomes increasingly difficult.
Each aspect of the COPD can feel different, which is why those with difficulty breathing should not put off a visit to Lung Center of Nevada to find out the source of their symptoms. For those who do know they have COPD and are preparing for summer, the following are helpful tips to consider when the weather heats up.
- Get Better Informed About Air Quality: Air quality in Southern Nevada can change quickly, with winds picking up dust and allergens seemingly out of nowhere. You can get ahead of these changes by making sure to check the weather report a few times per day. A good website to bookmark is AirNow, which provides detailed reports on air quality. Depending on air quality conditions, which are made more challenging when paired with extreme heat, consider rescheduling plans that include outdoor activities until conditions approve.
- Be Prepared with Your Own Air: If you’re in need of oxygen, make sure to take it with you when you leave the house. You may be tempted to leave it at home, as you think you may just be out for a short while, but plans can change, and things can happen that might keep you away longer. It’s best to set up routines to always bring your air with you, especially in the summer when breathing can be more difficult.
- Account for Medications: Air quality and heat can make being outside during daytime hours difficult during the summer for COPD patients. Nighttime can be a more efficient time to get things done, so make sure part of your planning for getting medications includes a pharmacy with later hours. Some may close early, which could present a problem if being outside during daytime hours is not safe for your lungs. Additionally, make sure to keep your medications stocked properly, not waiting until the last minute to refill prescriptions you may have. This includes making sure you keep doctor’s appointments if you need refills.
- Manage Prescriptions: If you happen to travel during the summer, keep copies of prescriptions for your medications on your person (in a pocket, wallet or purse) in case bags are lost or delayed. You can also take a photograph of prescriptions and keep them in your phone, in case of emergencies.
- Take It Easy: There is a lot of fun to be had during the summer months, which can include eating too much, drinking a bit extra and staying up later. While it’s good to have fun, always be mindful of taking care of yourself and your health.
How Do You Know if You Might Have COPD?
As important as it is to properly prepare yourself for summer with COPD, it’s equally important for those who may have COPD to get a diagnosis and treatment plan in place to ultimately improve quality of life.
Comprehensive Cancer Centers & Lung Center of Nevada Can Help
When it comes to care for your chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), count on Lung Center of Nevada, a division of Comprehensive Cancer Centers and its team of board-certified pulmonologists, respiratory therapists, nurse practitioners, and administrative support staff. To schedule an appointment with the Lung Center of Nevada, please call 702-737-5864.
The content is this post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.