People with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may experience a worsening of their symptoms during winter. Every year, from January to March, there is a surge of COPD-related hospitalizations and deaths.
With COVID-19 already weighing heavy on the healthcare system and a threat to patients with COPD who already have compromised lung function, taking extra precautions has never been more important. If you have COPD, there are steps you can take to prevent COPD exacerbations during the winter and minimize risks of COVID-19 infection and costly hospitalizations.
Why exactly does winter exacerbate COPD symptoms? Well, it has to do with the cold, dry air and its negative effects on the respiratory system. The drop in temperature stresses out the body, and the air quality can trigger COPD symptoms. The cold air, such as in freezing temperatures, is even more dangerous.
Tips To Prevent COPD Flare-Ups in Winter
Take extra precaution this wintertime. Remember, COVID-19 and COPD could be a lethal combination.
Keep Your Nose and Mouth Covered
With mask-wearing required in all public places, keeping your nose and mouth covered has never been easier. A mask can also prevent you from breathing in cold air.
Get Your Flu Shot
A COPD patient with viral respiratory infection experiences symptoms ten times worse due to their already weakened lungs. Check that you are up-to-date on your flu shot and other preventive shots.
Wash Your Hands
Perhaps the most important habit that everyone should have developed by now is handwashing. COPD patients should wash their hands before and after eating and avoid touching the face. Respiratory infections develop after a person comes into contact with a bacteria or virus and touches their face afterward, allowing the germs to enter through the eyes, nose, or mouth.
Use a Humidifier
Everyone has been spending more time indoors nowadays due to COVID-19, which will only become more frequent with the arrival of winter. With the heater on or a fireplace going, two irritants — dry air and smoke — can exacerbate COPD symptoms. Use a humidifier to maintain a 40 percent humidity level and avoid smoke.
Avoid Crowds, Keep Socially Distant
Social distancing measures have been a great help in avoiding crowds. As a COPD patient, the more people you are exposed to, the greater the chance of catching something from them. Stick to social distancing guidelines and keep six-feet away from people.
If you notice a worsening of your COPD symptoms, let your doctor know immediately. Act before the symptoms get worse. Your health care provider can also recommend more preventive strategies to further avoid flare-ups during the winter months.
Family Doctor for COPD Management in Fort Worth, TX
Our family medicine physicians at Texas Medical Institute provide personalized, ongoing care for patients with chronic diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma. We also believe in patient education and make sure our patients know what steps to take to prevent exacerbation of their respiratory condition. If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment with a family physician, call (817) 615-8633 or use our convenient online request form.