5 Tips for Healthy Lung Function During Cold Weather

5 Tips for Healthy Lung Function During Cold Weather

Here in Algonquin, Illinois, we’re no strangers to preparing for cold weather. You know to protect your skin from freezing and below-freezing temperatures by bundling up. But did you know cold temperatures, as we experience here in late fall and winter, can impact your lungs?

Colder temperatures usually mean drier air. This can irritate your airways, triggering coughing spells and difficulty breathing easily. For patients with existing lung conditions, such as COPD or asthma, the cold air can make this worse and trigger additional symptoms. 

Led by Dennis Kellar, MD, and Madhu Gundavaram, MD, our team of pulmonary specialists at Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine is dedicated to keeping your lungs healthy this cold weather season and all year long with our comprehensive line of pulmonary services.    

We put our heads together to generate our top five tips for keeping your lungs healthy in cold weather conditions. Keep reading to learn what you need to know to breathe easy this fall and winter. 

1. Do your part to stay infection-free

In addition to colder temperatures, the fall and winter are called cold and flu season for a reason. During these months, your risk of getting an upper respiratory virus, such as influenza, the common cold, and even COVID-19, increases. 

No one likes being sick, but upper respiratory infections are especially troublesome for patients already struggling with a lung disorder, such as COPD or asthma. You can do your part to stay infection-free by taking proactive steps to protect your lung health, such as:

Get vaccinated

The officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that everyone aged 6 months and older get the flu shot every year, and they also recommend that everyone eligible get the COVID-19 vaccine as well.

Wash your hands frequently

Viruses can live on surfaces, and if you touch a contaminated surface, you may get the virus if you then touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. So try your best to keep your hands clean.

Stay away from high-contact surfaces

Try not to touch surfaces with a high likelihood of carrying virus particles, such as other people’s phones, public handles, and doorknobs.  

Avoid close contact

Reduce your risk of getting an upper respiratory infection by avoiding close contact, such as handshaking, kissing, or hugging, with people outside of your household.

You can also keep surfaces you frequently touch clean by using sanitizing wipes or cleaning sprays.  

2. Use your medications

If you have an existing lung condition, your Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine provider can prescribe medications to help you breathe easier and keep your condition from worsening. Options could include:

Using your medications can help keep your airways open and make them less sensitive to the changes colder weather can bring.   

3. Don’t exercise outside

There’s no doubt that exercise is good for your lungs and overall health. However, exercising outside in extremely cold weather may do more harm than good. Cold, dry air can result in inflammation, increased mucus production, and constriction of your airways. 

If you have a pulmonary condition or lung disease, it’s safer to take your workouts indoors during the cold weather season. You can also use a fast-acting inhaler about 30 minutes before going outside to help manage symptoms. 

4. Keep covered

You can help reduce the risk of irritating your airways by covering your mouth and nose with a scarf or face mask before heading outside into the cold, dry air. Breathing through a covering can warm the cold air and make it less likely to trigger the effects cold air can have on your lungs. 

5. Monitor your indoor environment

During the cold weather season, we tend to spend more time indoors than outdoors. This makes it especially important to monitor your indoor environment for factors that could impact your lungs.

Work to keep your home and office as free as possible from smoke, dust, mold, fumes, and pet dander. You can use a filter in your HVAC system to help. You’ll also want to avoid wood-burning fires to prevent inhaling smoke particles. And consider using a humidifier to add moisture to the air, which can help prevent inflammation.  

Need more help this cold weather season?

If you need more tips or have additional concerns about how to keep your lungs healthy during the cold weather season, the team of specialists at Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine can help. Our practitioners use the latest in diagnostics and treatment modalities, and we can give you an accurate diagnosis and personalized care plan.

To learn more, call 815-770-5980 or book an appointment online with Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine today.

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