It seems pretty likelythat I am in the minority of people who like chilly weather. That is probably because I happen to live in a place where it doesn’t get terribly cold, and if the temperatures do drop, they don’t stay there for long. But I do enjoy a crisp, chilly day – even better if it snows!
For many people living with lung conditions, the cold weather can bring new challenges. For example, some people find the cold, dry air makes it more difficult to breathe. Some people find that using their oxygen in winter really dries out the nose and causes nose bleeds. And then let’s not forget that with the colder weather comes flu and RSV(Respiratory Syncytial Virus) season. RSV is a respiratory virus, normally thought to affect only children, but it can be dangerous for adults, too.
So, what do you do if the freezing air makes it hard to breathe? The first thing is to remember to breathe in through your nose. This is because your nose acts like a humidifier and adds moisture to the air as you breathe in. If you breathe in and out of your mouth, you bypass that natural humidifier keeping the air dry and more irritating to the lungs. You can also use a thin mask, bandana, or scarf to wrap loosely around your nose and mouth, which will help keep the bitter cold air out of your lungs.
If your oxygen concentrator is drying your nose out and causing nose bleeds, you can contact your medical equipment supplier and ask if they can provide you with a water bottle or humidifier. These attach to the concentrator and add a little moisture to the air that comes through the cannula. If you need more than that to stop the dryness, get a water-based gel to put around the nose. Do not use petroleum-based products. Those can cause problems when used with supplemental oxygen.
And on top of this, we need to avoid the flu and RSV. If you haven’t already, it is time to get your flu vaccine. Getting your shot now should protect you until the end of the season, but you need to get it soon so you will be protected. Avoiding contact with sick people is best, but frequent hand washing is also very important. If you are out in public, avoid touching your face – those germs can live on surfaces, and when you touch your face, nose, mouth, or eyes, you are putting the virus in direct contact with where it will thrive.
We want you to stay healthy this winter! What else can you think of to help you stay well? Do you have any tips to share with the community? I’d love to hear your ideas!