Living with a severe condition like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in the summer can be very difficult as extreme heat can lead to serious complications. Not only can we provide you with an early warning when hot weather is arriving we also provide you with the information to help you manage your symptoms.
During the heat of summer, the body must expend extra energy to try and cool itself down in order to maintain a normal body temperature. This extra energy requirement causes the body to demand more oxygen. If you have COPD, you are already using much of your energy just to breathe, not to mention everything else that you do during the day. So, it is not uncommon to experience a greater level of shortness of breath when you are exposed to extreme temperatures as your body is forced to use more energy while it struggles to maintain your body temperature.
The aim is to keep your body cool so make sure you do not burn when you are in the sun. More information on how to protect yourself against sunburn.
Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day and eat more cold food, particularly salads and fruit which contain water.
Plan your day in a way that allows you to stay out of the heat. If possible, avoid going out in the hottest part of the day (between 11:00 and 15:00).
Stay in the coolest rooms in your home as much as possible. Keep windows closed while the room is cooler than outside of the house. Open them when the temperature inside rises, and close the curtains in rooms that are in the full glare of the sun. Also remember to open windows at night for ventilation. If you are worried about security, only open windows on the first floor and above, or fit security locks that allow windows to be locked in an open position for ventilation.
Splash yourself several times a day with cold water, particularly on your face and the back of your neck.
Make arrangements with family or friends to check on you regularly during extreme temperatures. Help is also available from organisations such as the British Lung Foundation who can provide support and information. If your symptoms worsen contact your GP.
Even short periods of hot temperature can cause serious illness for COPD patients. The Met Office provides a cold weather alert service which acts as an early warning system allowing you to prepare for the weather conditions that are coming.
Healthy Outlook® is a preventative telehealth service, delivered through local GP practices in areas where Primary Care Trusts have already signed-up for the service. The service is activated when weather patterns warn of an elevated forecast risk that could lead to potential COPD exacerbations. If you would like to receive Healthy Outlook® please contact your GP surgery to find out if it is offering the service.
More information about Healthy Outlook®can be found on our COPD in the winter months page.