Managing COPD during hot summer

The Top 7 Summer Tips for COPD Patients

As the summer sun beats down and temperatures soar, individuals with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) face unique challenges in managing their condition. COPD symptoms can get worse or flare up in summer due to hot temperatures, high humidity, and dehydration. Also, there is often higher levels of air pollution in cities during the summer. But fear not! with careful planning and proactive measures, you can navigate the summer months more comfortably and safeguard your respiratory health. So here are some essential tips for you this summer:


  1. Stay Hydrated:

Hot and humid weather can make our body dehydrated, which than can worsen the symptoms of COPD – like cough, shortness of breath and risk of flare ups. It's crucial for COPD patients to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day. Opt for water or other hydrating beverages like low calories electrolyte-rich drinks or herbal teas. Be careful in drinking too much caffeine, like coffee or soda as caffeine makes use pee more and can leave us more dehydrated.


  1. Avoid Peak Heat Hours:

Try to schedule outdoor activities during the cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or late evening, to minimize exposure to extreme heat and humidity. If you must be outdoors during peak hours, take frequent breaks in shaded or air-conditioned areas to rest and cool down. Consider using a portable fan or mister to stay cool, and don't forget to keep you water bottle to stay hydrated.


  1. Check Air Conditioning System:

Keep your home cool and comfortable, but be mindful of indoor air quality. Air conditioning can provide relief from hot and humid weather, but make sure your air conditioning system is well-maintained and equipped with clean filters to reduce indoor pollutants that can worsen respiratory symptoms.


  1. Monitor Air Quality:

Hot and humid weather can contribute to poor air quality, especially in urban areas where pollution levels tend to rise during summer months. Keep an eye on air quality reports in your area and try to limit outdoor activities on days when pollution levels are high. Consider using air purifiers indoors to improve indoor air quality and reduce exposure to airborne pollutants.


  1. Dress Appropriately:

Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing made from breathable fabrics like cotton to stay cool and comfortable in hot weather. Avoid tight clothing that can restrict breathing and exacerbate COPD symptoms. Additionally, wear a wide-brimmed hat, use an umbrella, and sunglasses to protect yourself from direct ray of the when outdoors.


  1. Seek Medical Advice:

If you experience worsening COPD symptoms during hot and humid weather, don't hesitate to seek medical advice promptly. Your healthcare provider can offer guidance on managing exacerbations and adjusting your COPD treatment plan as needed. Be proactive in monitoring your symptoms and communicate any concerns or changes in your condition to your healthcare team.


  1. Practice Breathing Exercises:

Engage in regular breathing exercises to strengthen your respiratory muscles and improve lung function. Deep breathing exercises, pursed-lip breathing, and diaphragmatic breathing can help alleviate shortness of breath and enhance oxygen flow to the lungs. Incorporate these exercises into your daily routine, especially during hot and humid weather when respiratory symptoms may worsen.


Also check out our device, PEP Buddy, that is a small, handsfree device that makes it easy to practice slow breathing and provides a gentle back pressure. It reduces breathlessness and improves quality of life in many people with COPD.


In conclusion, COPD patients can effectively manage their condition during hot and humid summers by taking proactive measures to stay hydrated, avoid extreme heat, maintain indoor air quality, and practice breathing exercises. By following these essential tips for COPD care during hot weather, individuals with COPD can enjoy the summer months with greater comfort and peace of mind. Remember to prioritize your respiratory health and seek medical assistance when needed to ensure a safe and enjoyable summer season.


Author & expert review by Dr Muhammad Ahsan Zafar, MD, MS. Dr Zafar is an Associate Professor of Pulmonary & Critical Care at University of Cincinnati. He is also the co-founder of PEP Buddy. This blog is for general information. Please discuss your health issues with you doctors/ medical team.