Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring. 10 Spring Tips for People with Lung Conditions
Spring is finally here in Virginia! As I sit here at home while the coronavirus wreaks havoc on the world, I get respite by getting fresh air. I love going for walks with my kids, sitting out on the porch, or just wandering around my yard looking for signs of flowers starting to poke up out of the ground. However, with the mild temps and flowers forming arrives…. pollen. Yep. That green stuff coating your car (and mine) doesn’t do a thing for people who suffer from chronic lung conditions. The weather is also often very erratic in the spring. Multiple warm dry days can be followed by a rainstorm that can not only change the barometric pressure but can also drop the temperature quickly. As I have stated before in previous blogs, many people with chronic lung diagnoses are affected by weather changes. These fluctuations can contribute to increased shortness of breath. I wanted to give my readers some tips and tricks to making spring a little easier by preventing flare-ups and decreasing your shortness of breath.
Here are 10 Tips for Spring for People with Lung Conditions
1. Know your triggers and check your air quality. Allergens like increased levels of pollen and molds as well as pollutants can really cause issues with our ability to breathe comfortably. These allergens and pollutants can irritate the airways and cause inflammation. Have your rescue inhaler easily accessible if you start to feel like your breathing is becoming affected by the conditions outside. Avoid spending time outside on days that the air quality is poor. If you should need to go out when the air quality is poor, limit your time spent outdoors.
2. Use your breathing meds every day. As the harsh cold temperatures start to dissipate, sometimes people with lung conditions feel as though they don’t need to take their breathing medications quite as much. However, this isn’t a time to decide to decrease the use of your medications at all. Inhaled medications often help prevent inflammation (swelling) of the airways and bronchoconstriction (tightening of the airways). Having these medications onboard may help you enjoy the mild temperatures outdoors all the while breathing easier and preventing flare-ups from environmental triggers.
3. Maintain adequate indoor air quality. As allergens are whipping around outdoors it is a good idea to change your indoor air filters. These filters will help keep dust and other allergy triggers from lingering in the air you breathe indoors. Changing these filters monthly will lengthen the life of your home’s heating and air conditioning equipment. Although it can be tempting to open windows and “air out” your home, you are also letting outdoor triggers inside your home. Keep the windows in your home closed to prevent outdoor triggers from coming inside. You may want to consider keeping the windows up in your car as well.
4. Avoid using products inside and out with heavy fragrances and perfumes. We all want to avoid insect bites and pesky bugs outside but using Citronella and fragrant bug sprays may trigger shortness of breath. If you are more susceptible to shortness of breath when exposed to fragrances or perfumes you may want to consider wearing long sleeves and pants outside. Make sure the fabrics are breathable (no pun intended) and won’t cause you to overheat during warm weather. If you can find “fragrance-free” bug sprays, you may be able to use those as well.
5. Be careful when spring cleaning. Many people want to get down and dirty with cleaning during this time of year. Stirring up dust can trigger breathlessness (however having a clean house is super important as well). Consider the use of a lightweight mask when cleaning. Pace yourself and use energy conservation techniques so that you don’t get overtired. Remember to use your breathing techniques when pushing and pulling a vacuum. (For more cleaning tips check out my blog on that topic!)
6. When outside, carry your phone with you for emergencies. I always feel it is a good idea to have a quick way of getting in touch with people in an emergency. If you fall and are far away from a phone it could be hard to get in touch with someone or worse yet… it could take a while for someone to find you. Having a phone or personal emergency response button close by will give you (and your loved ones) comfort that you can call 911 if needed.
7. Get your AC and Heat Pump checked before the summer heat. If you have been reading my blog, you know I like to be prepared! Having your heating and air conditioning system checked and tuned-up is an excellent “to do” in the spring. Often time these preventive maintenance visits only cost a fraction of what you could spend in the heat of the summer trying to repair a broken air conditioning system. Check this box on your list of “to do” items and it will give you peace of mind heading into the sweltering heat of the summer.
8. Be prepared for weather changes – One of the hardest things about spring is knowing how to dress for the day. I know personally that I am sending my kids outside in jeans, sweatshirts, and jackets, only to have them return in short-sleeved t-shirts. Make sure you dress in layers that are easily removed as the day warms up. Be prepared for afternoon showers by having an umbrella handy. Also, remember to apply sunscreens before going outside. Many people with lung conditions are on medications that make them more susceptible to burn. Use a high-level SPF 50+ (fragrance-free) to prevent sunburns.
9. Use your dryer- I can understand that using an outdoor clothesline can help reduce energy costs than drying laundry in a dryer, but doing so can also cause your clothing to be covered in pollen and other outdoor allergens. If financially feasible, dry your laundry in a dryer or indoor clothes rack and avoid using an outdoor clothing line.
10. Shower before getting into bed. Most people do not realize this, but the hair on your body and skin can hold on to pollen. If you have spent time outside, avoid transferring those allergens to your pillowcase and bedding by showering off before going to bed. Make sure you wear clean clothing to sleep in.
Thanks for Reading!
If you enjoyed this blog, I invite you to check out some of the topics I have covered in the past
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