Summertime brings warm weather, BBQs and beach trips, but for those people who have respiratory problems, such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), the summer weather can also bring breathing trouble.
There are a few reasons why hotter temperatures can exacerbate conditions like COPD:
- Breathing in hot air can cause airway inflammation, making it more difficult to breathe
- Hot air can also cause a bronchospasm, causing the airways to contract and causing shortness of breath.
- The body needs more oxygen to stay cool when it’s hot outside, decreasing lung function, which can result in deep or rapid breathing, a condition known as hyperpnea.
- Older adults are less efficient at thermoregulation, the body’s ability to cool itself off and perspire, which can cause rapid heartbeat and increased blood flow to the skin, leaving the blood supply for other organs, like the lungs, depleted.
The good news for people with COPD is that if you live in an area with hotter weather, your body can acclimate to the heat and you will struggle less with breathing in the heat. If that isn’t the case, air conditioning can play a major part in easing your breathing during the summer months. If you don’t have an air conditioner and you have COPD, you may be eligible for our Emergency Medical Assistance program. To learn more about the program and to see if you qualify, click here.