Winters & COPD: How To Prepare?
It is not easy to forget the months of winters when one has COPD, the health problems in these months are unending. Many patients are constantly in and out of the emergency rooms, looking for oxygen therapy and antibiotic therapies to ease the symptoms.
With COPD, it is not uncommon to see a few flare ups during the winter season. The emergency room sees its fair share of COPD patients arriving with pneumonia and acute flare up in the symptoms of COPD. The patients are often found attached to an oxygen concentrator with a pulse oximeter to monitor their oxygen levels.
Why do Patients have COPD Exacerbation in Winters?
A very interesting thing about blood vessels is that they constrict (reduce their internal diameter) when it is cold outside. This saves the heat and keeps it inside the body. Another function of constriction of blood vessels is the reduced transfer of oxygen from the blood to the heart and other organs that need it. As a result, the heart pumps faster and the lungs work harder. This cycle can ultimately lead to an increase in the breathlessness experienced by the patient.
A flare-up of COPD can look like an inability to breathe properly, excessive production of mucus/phlegm, and coughing.
But this is not all, the situation can also make the lungs a welcome spot for infections and many other triggers. As a person with COPD or someone who cares for a person with COPD, you need to be careful, and doing the following practices would help you immensely.
Best Practices with COPD in Winters
Want to stay away from your oxygen cylinders and spend a peaceful holiday season? Have a look at the following list to achieve that goal.
Covering Up the Nose and Mouth
When you go out, it is best to cover the nose and mouth with a mask or a muffler to keep the air passageways from drying up. The moist passageways are safe from irritation and inflammation but cold air is drying and can cause inflammation. The best thing that you can do is stay covered and that alone will ensure that damp warm air enters your airways.
Stay Away From Smoking and Other Irritants
Smoking is one of the main causes of COPD itself, staying away from this habit during winter will improve your pulmonary health. Lungs and their passageways are susceptible to irritation and inflammation from smoke, the smoke can come from your cigarette or a heat source that you’re using to stay warm.
Take Special Care of Your Hygiene
While we understand that the idea of social distancing constantly throughout the winter might be off-putting to you, it is great for your pulmonary health. Don’t go near people who could potentially be a carrier of infection. Wash your hands after you’ve touched anything outside or shaken anyone’s hands. Don’t let any microbe come near your respiratory system.
Maintain Your Nutrition and Hydration
Hydration and nutrition are a necessity when it comes to protection against COPD attacks in winter. Drinking water helps the body lower the viscosity of the mucus collecting in the airways. Thinner mucus is easier to cough out and get rid of. Good nutrition on the other hand helps the body fight off infections. Food with antioxidants is great for holding off flare ups.
Keep on Exercising
Always remember to continue your exercise regardless of the location. It is best to avoid going for a run outside but you can still exercise inside. Remember that exercise plays a good role in maintaining your physical and pulmonary health. If it is needed, use your oxygen concentrator to help increase your stamina, but do carry on.
Your Medicines are Your Friends
Medicines that are already in your use need not be discontinued. Rather it is now more important to stick to your previous regimes. Has your doctor prescribed you the use of an oxygen concentrator for supplemental oxygen therapy? Carry on with the treatment. Do you have to regularly use an inhaler? Use it!
Remember that your prescribed medicines will help you weather the winters. However, if you feel that you are feeling worse once the winters come, make it your priority to go visit the physician.
Stay Up to Date With Your Vaccinations
When a person has COPD, they are much likely to get infected with the virus or bacterial strain going around causing chest infections or pneumonia. You need to have a protective force ready against such invasive forces of virus and bacteria. Hence, every year, you need to be careful about getting your flu vaccinations so that the new viral strain stays away from your lungs. Pneumococcal vaccines are also great for avoiding possible pneumonia.
Not only should you care about your immunization, but you should also take interest in the vaccination of people who are in your presence constantly. This will ensure that they stay healthy as well.
Your Source of Oxygen Should Not Be Away From You
COPD’s main symptoms include breathlessness and coughing. Both of these highly disruptive symptoms can easily be avoided with the use of an oxygen concentrator or an oxygen cylinder. Your physician and other healthcare personnel will tell you whether an oxygen-generating device should be in your use for any type of supplemental oxygen therapy.
Once your physician clears it, you can buy your own portable oxygen concentrator or the general oxygen concentrator for oxygen.
Sanai Health Hopes You Have a Healthy Winter Season
With these tips and tricks to make life easier in winters, we hope you will enjoy the season without needing to visit a hospital for pulmonary care. While our oxygen concentrators will always be there to support you, we hope to see pulmonary health improve around the globe.