There’s no way around it: summer heat can be oppressive. But if you’re struggling with breathing problems, it takes more than just a dip in the pool to find relief.
Summer heat, haze, smog and humidity can make summer uncomfortable for anyone with breathing problems, regardless of their age. Those with heart or lung problems, allergies and asthma are particularly at risk.
Rita Edwards, respiratory therapist at Paoli Hospital, part of Main Line Health, has tips for people with breathing problems to reduce their risk for complications and enjoy summer weather.
- Check the air quality – The air quality index (AQI) is a part of most weather reports, and measures air pollutants that can cause sneezing. AQI is measured from zero to 500 and, although an index of up to 50 is optimal, anything up to 100 should be safe. For any days when the AQI is over 100, it’s best to spend time inside.
- Avoid the heat – The hottest times of the day are between 11:00 am and 3:00 pm. If you notice that the heat affects your breathing, try to get any outdoor activities done later at night. You can also try outdoor activities in the morning, but pollen counts tend to be higher then.
- Stay hydrated – Drink lots of cold water to help keep your temperature down.
- Exercise indoors – Exercising outdoors can make it even harder to breathe than usual. Instead, exercise indoors at the gym or in another air-conditioned setting. If you absolutely want to be outside, go swimming and take frequent breaks, or go for a walk during evening hours.
- Take frequent showers – After you come inside from being outdoors, take a shower and change your clothes to remove pollen and pollutants from your clothes, body and hair. If you have allergies, this can help reduce your symptoms.
- Use sunscreen – It’s important for everyone to wear sunscreen in the sun, but it's especially important for anyone with breathing problems. Sunburn can raise your internal body temperature and make it harder to cool down.
- Take your medication – If you have been given prescription medications to help with breathing problems, make sure you’re taking them. This will help control your symptoms.
While the weather is out of our control, taking these steps to prepare yourself for different weather conditions can go far in helping you breathe easy.
Live better with chronic respiratory conditions
When you have a chronic respiratory illness, everyday tasks can leave you exhausted and short of breath. Activities like exercising or climbing stairs can be even more challenging. That’s where the Main Line Health Pulmonary Diagnostic and Wellness Centers can help. We diagnose and help manage conditions like: asthma, bronchitis, cystic fibrosis, emphysema, sleep disorders and more. Using our advanced diagnostic testing, treatments and therapeutic rehabilitation services, our team works with you to get you back in action.
Article updated 7/11/2017