When you have interstitial lung disease, sweating through your sunblock is the least of your summertime woes. In fact, the summer season brings on a fresh suite of new worries. From increased chance of heat stroke to difficulty breathing while going through your daily routine, many lung disease symptoms are aggravated by the hottest months of the year.

Looking to make this summer your healthiest? Here’s our guide to pulmonary fibrosis management during the hottest time of the year.

Portrait of senior woman looking from the balcony

Tip #1: Limit Your Time in the Heat

Extreme temperatures put additional stress on the body, no matter whether they clock in at the top of the thermometer or the bottom. If you have interstitial lung disease, your body is already under stress. It’s difficult enough for you to breathe and transfer fresh oxygen into your bloodstream.

During the summer, your goal should be to limit the amount of work your body has to do as much as you can. Bring your workouts indoors. Instead of walking or biking to get somewhere, drive, carpool or take public transportation. Make arrangements for others to take on any outdoor maintenance your home requires.

Tip #2: Keep Tabs on the Air Quality

It’s not practical for most of us to simply decide to stay inside, no matter what. That’s why it’s important to know what the air quality is where you are, and to understand what those numbers mean.

While many newspapers, local television news and basic weather apps offer up some of this information, it’s handy to have a reliable source in your pocket. Luckily, app developers have your back.

Here are three weather apps to download that will help you track humidity, pollen count, pressure and more:

Senior couple at home

Tip #3: Improve Your Indoor Environment

Just because you’re inside doesn’t mean you’re automatically out of danger. If your home is prone to mold or mildew, you should mitigate those concerns as soon as possible. You might also want to invest in an air purifier, especially in rooms where you spend the majority of your time, like a living area or bedroom.

There are other ways to keep your home cool, too. You can keep your blinds and drapes closed. Also replace your halogen lightbulbs with LED bulbs that put off less heat. Minimize the amount of cooking you do in your oven, which produces more heat for a longer period of time than your stovetop.

This is also the time to be especially vigilant about what’s around you. Avoid cigarette smoke, paint and exhaust fumes and aerosols. Wear a mask if you’re in a construction area or even a bakery or workshop, where small particles of plaster, flour or wood dust could be in the air. If possible, hire or trade services with someone who can do the cleaning tasks that require products including ammonia and chlorine bleach. You can also pick up some non-toxic alternatives to traditional cleaners at many retailers.

Husband Wife Senior Pensioner Retirement Couple

Tip #4: Help Your Body Adjust

Different people react to abrupt temperature changes in different ways. Some lung disease patients experience inflamed airways during cold, dry weather. Others report symptom flares during the summer months, when the air is warm and damp.

If you live in an area that experiences frequent shifts in humidity, temperature or summer storms, though, chances are good your respiratory system will struggle with it. To better manage your pulmonary fibrosis, do your best to dress for change so that your body doesn’t have to work as hard to regulate your internal temperature and breathe.

For example, if you’re going outside, take off a layer so you can cool down more quickly. If you’re going indoors where there’s air conditioning, cover your nose and mouth with a scarf—or pull up the neckline of your shirt—so that you can still breathe comfortably with a little makeshift warmth and humidity.

Whatever you do, make sure you have a backup plan. If you’re out and about and not feeling well, write up a list of places you can go to rest and recover. If you’re home and you lose power, have a backup energy source, a cool place you can go or battery-powered cooling devices.

The key to staying well this summer is preparation. Lay the groundwork now and, with these tips, you’ll be able to stay cool all season long.

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  • Yoshiko Buchanan
    Posted on July 7, 2021 at 2:30 am

    I have IPF and just arrived in Kentucky from CA, hot and LOT MORE humid. Your site is informative and helps me to adjust the difference on the climate. I first day, the 4th, was the hardest while traveling. 2nd day morning was shock when I inhale the wet air but I am adjusting well. I have been given your info and I think I will be doing better as days go by. ThNk you.

    Yoshiko Buchanan

    • PF NOW
      Posted on July 12, 2021 at 8:47 pm

      Hi Yoshiko,

      Wow, what a huge move! Any big change can bring up lots of stress, so we hope you are staying as relaxed as possible.

      In case you’re needing some support with that, here’s a link to some guided meditations: https://pulmonaryfibrosisnow.org/2021/04/26/guided-meditations-to-help-with-pain/. They’re designed to help with any kind of pain, including the discomfort of travelling and the pain of breathing through or living around wet air.

      It sounds like you’re adjusting well, so if you’re ready for another big challenge, feel free to try out all our Learning Challenges at your own pace! They are available at https://pulmonaryfibrosisnow.org/challenge/.

      We also have instructions for different breathing exercises you can try at https://pulmonaryfibrosisnow.org/learn/exercise-your-lungs-2/#excercise.

      We are so glad to hear you’re finding the information helpful, and we love (and share!) the enthusiasm that you’ll get better as the days go by. No matter how you’re feeling, please know there’s an entire community of people here to support. We have a virtual support group that meets monthly – it’d be great to see you there. Signup is free & easy here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdKO56AaaMZ9fHhwgcztSH5MUdoehsr9RsUdFQoRE1WPfN6uw/viewform

      Lastly, we hope to see you in our online community forum: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1198991686930106. This is a private Facebook group for people with or impacted by PF. Once you join, you’ll be able to search through past conversations related to temperature, humidity, and any other challenges you may be experiencing. You can also post your own questions any time, and trust that people will share encouraging, compassionate, and informative words in return. Please know we’ll be thinking of you and wishing you the best with this new adventure.


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