11 Tips for Spring for People with Lung Conditions
We are just about a week out from spring in Virginia and I am not alone in saying that after our cold wet winter we are ready for milder temperatures. Although we will be given warmer temperatures and (hopefully) more sunshine than we have had the last few months, the season of spring brings with it a whole other list of challenges for people with lung conditions. Pollen, showers, and other allergens are just a few of the factors that may affect lung patients. Asthma sufferers and those that have more reactive airways tend to be at risk for bronchospasm and other types of flare-ups. BreatheLiveFit is all about improving your life and giving you tips to enjoy every part of the year so with that focus going forward… I have come up with a list of recommendations that may help you breathe a little easier and hopefully enjoy all that spring has to offer!
Here are 11 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 wreak havoc on our ability to breathe comfortably. These allergens and pollutants can irritate the air ways 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 long. 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 on board 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 light weight 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. (More cleaning tips coming soon! Check back later!)
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 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 off to school in jeans, sweatshirts, and jackets, only to have them popping of the bus 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 from 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.
11. Consider taking allergy medication or antihistamines but ask your doctor FIRST. Many people with lung conditions consider the option of taking an over the counter allergy medication. I recommend that if you want to start one that you talk to your doctor first. You don’t want to risk taking anything that could interfere with your current medications. I also recommend starting this before you begin to feel the effects of seasonal allergies. You don’t want to feel like you are playing “catch-up” with your allergy symptoms.
Happy Spring and Thanks for Reading!
Remember: We are in this TOGETHER!
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