Tips You Really Autumn Know. Information to Prepare Lung Patients for Fall.
Well “Hey Y’all!” It’s definitely been a while since I posted on my blog, but that is not for a lack of trying. Late summer was unbelievably busy. My kids started back with loads of activities, my parents purchased a rental home in Wintergreen, Virginia (which needed a little TLC before they could get it on the rental sites), my kids just started back to school, and my oldest is learning virtually! Whew! Just telling you about it wears me out, but I can safely say that the time with my family since COVID began has been absolutely amazing. I have heard from many of you wondering where I have been?! Trust me, I have definitely missed you! One of the things I have learned since coronavirus began is that my ability to post weekly might be biting off more than I can chew. I looove blogging but coming up with new content week after week is very difficult let alone writing and publishing the content takes hours upon hours. So, I am going to try my best from this day forward to be more frequent with my posting (as I know I have been absent lately), but you may not see a new blog each and every week. What I AM going to focus on more is posting more tips, inspiration, and other fun stuff that I think that you all will enjoy on my social media pages (Facebook, Instagram, etc.). I know many of you aren’t “social media” people and that’s okay!!! Be sure to check your inbox every now and again for my notices for new blog posts. One thing I have been considering is publishing a monthly/bimonthly digital newsletter from BreatheLiveFit. If you would be interested in receiving it, let me know your thoughts. If you don’t think you would read it…ALSO let me know your thoughts. I want to hear from you! I love getting emails from my readers so don’t be shy y’all! My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
On to the blog!
Fall gives me all the feels. I enjoy watching the leaves change color, the cooler temps, football on T.V., and anything pumpkin spice. Autumn definitely has me FALLing in love with the season. (Sorry… I had to. LOL!) Here’s where I get serious… Even though I know that fall is my kind of season, I know it can present some issues for those with a chronic lung condition. Many of my patients struggle with issues like temperature changes and leaf mold. Read on to learn some of my favorite fall tips that could make the season a little more bearable. (Forgive me if I throw a few autumn puns in there to add a little playfulness to this blog.)
1. Cool Air, Don’t Care – One of the things that we see in Virginia are major temperature swings. Prepare for those cooler mornings and evenings by wearing layers that can easily be taken off if you start to feel warm. Avoid heavy jackets that can put weight on your shoulders whose muscles give you accessory muscles to breathe. Instead opt for lightweight hooded jackets, scarves, and vests. The scarf can be lightly held over your mouth to warm the outside air as you breathe. Don’t forget to wear appropriate footwear that will not only keep your feet warm but will prevent slipping.
2. Flu Season Ahead – All everyone keeps talking about is COVID 19, but flu season is just around the corner. It is so important that you make every effort to get the flu shot. People with chronic lung conditions are in the high-risk category. This means there is a high likelihood that if a lung patient gets the flu that it could pose a serious risk to their health and even death. The flu is definitely something that we need to take seriously. It is still possible that you can get the flu if you get the flu shot but physicians believe that if you have had the flu shot that the effects may not be as severe. The one positive thing about COVID is that we are all a bit more aware of washing our hands, wearing masks, and staying home when we don’t feel well. I am hopeful that this mass education to our population will help prevent the rapid spread of influenza in our communities.
3. Hydrate– If I am being honest, one of the things I struggle with the most is drinking enough water. I can get very dehydrated before I even feel thirsty. Staying hydrated is of great importance to your lung health. Drinking plenty of water helps people with chronic lung conditions thin and mobilize any thick mucous or secretions in their lungs. Water helps to keep your airways supple, your skin hydrated, it aids in digestion, prevents headaches, and helps prevent “brain fog” or confusion. Try to avoid sugary drinks or sodas. If you need to flavor your water to make it more palatable try adding fresh fruit like lemons, limes, oranges, or berries to your water. Some of my patients add water flavorings to their water like Crystal Light® or Mio® but personally I’m not a huge fan of artificial sweeteners.
4. “Carve” Out Some Time to Change Your Filters – Indoor air quality is of major importance when it comes to managing your chronic lung condition. You can’t have the place where you live to be a hazard to your health. Change your air filters in your home regularly to cut down on anything like dust and other microbes that can float through the air. Fall is a great time to schedule pre-winter heating and air conditioning unit preventative maintenance. Also, remember that even though the temperatures are milder in the early part of the fall, don’t be tempted to leave the windows open. Ragweed (which blooms in the fall) and leaf mold/spores are amongst the many outdoor triggers that can cause people with reactive airways to have flare-ups. You may feel that in this time of year that it helps your breathing to have your house dusted and vacuumed a bit more frequently as people often spend a bit more time indoors as the cooler temperatures arrive.
5. Don’t Even “Chai” to Stop Taking Your Breathing Medications - Because of the various outside triggers and cooler temperatures, fall is not the time to experiment with reducing the number of breathing medications that you are taking. Make sure you start your day with your controllers that tend to keep inflammation in your airways at bay. Use your short-acting bronchodilator to prepare for outside activities so that you reduce the reaction that your airways might have to the environment outside. Have your “rescue inhaler” handy if you should need it.
6. Words of Advice for Leaf Clean-up – The beauty that autumn brings with the leaves changing is incredible, however, when those leaves fall, there’s work to be done. If you do not have a loved one to help you or can’t financially afford to hire someone for leaf clean-up there are a few tips that I recommend you know before you get started.
a. Pretreat your lungs by using your short-acting bronchodilator often referred to as your rescue inhaler. Have this inhaler handy if you feel you need a follow-up dose.
b. Take precautions and if you must rake the leaves then wear a lightweight mask. The mask will help prevent spores from floating in the air from getting into your airways and irritating them.
c. Take a break – pace yourself while raking the leaves. Take breaks as needed to rest and recover any breathlessness that might have occurred.
d. Hydrate – Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration.
7. Prevent Your Home from Being “Lit” and Check Your Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Alarms – Prior to heating your home whether it be by electric or gas heat or wood stove, you should check to may sure your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms are functioning properly. If you use your fireplace for heating purposes, make sure you have your chimney swept to prevent the occurrence of a flue fire.
8. “Treat” Yourself and Indulge in Few of the Season’s Best – Whether your fall favorite is sugary pumpkin spice creamer, a slice of pecan pie, a slather of apple butter on a biscuit, a bottle of a hoppy IPA, or a handful of candy corn… you deserve it! Life really is about balance and enjoying (from time to time) some of the good things that the season has to offer. After corona quarantine, one of the things I am trying to be better at is enjoying the little things. Give yourself time to do that and the forgiveness if it’s not in your healthy diet plan that you will get back on track tomorrow.
Thanks for Reading and Happy Fall!
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