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.
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:
- Weather Bug, free for iOS and Android
- Weather Underground, free for iOS and Android
- Weather Live, free for iOS and Android
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.
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.