Do your PF symptoms worsen based off the weather? As shown in our FAQs, many people with PF are sensitive to certain climates and temperatures. Any time the weather suddenly or drastically changes – regardless of the season – people with PF can notice an increase or worsening of symptoms.
Coughing is already a challenge for many people with PF. Some people cough intermittently throughout the day or night, while others experience long-lasting coughing fits. For those who live in cold or dry climates, the air can irritate their airways and lead to even more coughing or symptoms like wheezing and shortness of breath.
There are several simple ways to prepare for winter weather and prevent a worsening of symptoms:
- Keep track of your symptoms through weekly updates here. Through mindfulness practices like recordkeeping, you’ll gain awareness of symptoms, triggers, and solutions.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Before you go outdoors, make sure to check your local weather forecast. If a storm or cold front is coming, you might need to take additional precautions based off the weather.
- When you’re outdoors, wearing a mask can help warm the outdoor air before you breathe it in. Some people recommend wrapping a scarf around your nose and mouth instead. It definitely depends on your particular needs – especially if you’re using supplemental oxygen – so please consult with your doctor to get personalized tips and ideas.
- Notice the air quality of your home and your community. In the winter, outdoor air pollution can be higher than usual, which puts extra stress on your lungs. Even indoors, air quality can be poor and air flow can be lacking; after all, because of the cold, people tend to keep their windows closed and heating systems (or fireplaces) running. To make it easier to breathe indoors, see these tips for increasing the levels of oxygen in your home.
On the other hand, if you live in an area with warmer weather, the heat and humidity might exacerbate your symptoms for other reasons. Inhaling hot air can create inflammation in your airways, so be sure to check out these tips for recognizing and responding to symptoms of inflammation here. There are additional ideas for managing PF symptoms in the heat here.
No matter where you live, the winter changes can bring up new or old physical and emotional pains. To cope with these changes, consider adding guided meditations or other natural therapies to your treatment plan.
Remember you are not alone, and we are here to help during the darkest of days. If you have questions about lung health in the winter, please comment below, reach out in our online community forum, and sign up for our virtual support group meetups.