the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Ridgewood NJ, , heat advisories are in affect for areas of New Jersey. Extreme weather conditions, like the current heat wave, can make breathing more difficult for anyone, but can especially be challenging for residents living with lung diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma.
Inhaling hot air is known to promote airway inflammation and exacerbate respiratory disorders like COPD. Hot weather can also be a trigger for people with asthma. Because people with chronic lung disease already have inflamed airways, weather is more likely to have an impact, as breathing in hot, humid air induces airway constriction or narrowing. It also takes more work for your body to breathe in humid air, so people may feel short of breath sooner than usual.
The American Lung Association offers these six tips to protect your lung health in extreme heat:
- Monitor air quality. Air pollution can be very high in summer and those with asthma and other lung diseases are at higher risk of being negatively impacted by air pollution.
- Don’t try to exercise outside in extreme heat. It’s not just uncomfortable, it can be deadly.
- Ensure you are taking steps to keep your body cool, such as:
- Drink plenty of fluids, even if you don’t feel thirsty, to stay hydrated. When you are dehydrated, your nasal passages dry out and that can affect your breathing.
- Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing.
- Locate an air-conditioned space such as a shopping mall or public library and try to stay there during late afternoon when it is hottest outside. During heat waves, many communities offer cooling centers at libraries, community centers or other public buildings. Even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay colder when you return home.
- Stop using an electric fan when temperatures reach 95 degrees or higher. These lend a false sense of comfort due to creating air flow but do not reduce your body’s temperature and could increase your risk of heat-related illness. Instead, take a cool shower or bath to cool your body temperature down.
- Keep all medications with you. It is important for people with chronic lung diseases such as COPD and asthma to always keep quick-relief medications with them and to follow their asthma or COPD action plan. If you know that extreme weather is coming, make sure that you have enough medication to last you a few days. And contact your healthcare provider if symptoms do not improve or are worrisome.
- Ask for help. The American Lung Association’s Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNGUSA is staffed by nurses and respiratory therapists and is a free resource to answer any questions about the lungs, lung disease and lung health, including how to protect yourself during extreme heat.
- Help others. Check on elderly and vulnerable neighbors frequently to ensure their homes are safely cooled and vented.
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