How Summer Heat Can Cause Breathing Issues

When you think of summer, the first thing that will usually come to mind is the heavy, hot air that encompasses most days. The air can sometimes feel so thick that breathing it in can make you feel tired and drained. Can you imagine what it would be like for someone already dealing with limited breathing issues? Can you imagine how much that overheated air would further limit or restrict their oxygen intake? In this article we will discuss just how temperature can affect breathing and air quality, as well as give you tips on protecting yourself and how to handle the summer heat.

Summer Heat and Your Body

Dealing with temperature extremes like severe cold and heat can lead to extra stress upon the body. Your body is always at work maintaining its temperature, and when you are exposed to higher levels of heat or cold, your body will expend extra amounts of energy to keep itself at 98.6 degrees. All that extra energy will require higher amounts of oxygen to fuel, and will make your lungs work just that much harder to supply the extra level needed.

If you are already suffering from medical conditions that come with breathing issues, like emphysema, asthma, chronic bronchitis or COPD, your body is already laboring to draw in enough oxygen to maintain your body temperature, and the heat of summer will just add an extra burden to you. People who have difficulty breathing normally may experience what is known as bronchospasms during these seasons of extreme temperatures, more often than those who can breathe normally. A bronchospasm causes the muscles of your airway to contract and cramp, decreasing your ability to draw in oxygen. If you have a medical condition that is already limiting the function of your airway, this can create a life-threatening situation during the summer.

Tips for Handling Extreme Temperatures

During the dog days of summer, there are things that you can do to reduce the effect of heat on your body, and help to keep your body from overtaxing itself. To start, you should always drink plenty of fluids during the summer months, even if you are not exercising or even going outside. When going about, be sure to wear loose fitting and lightly-colored clothes. This will help to keep your body cool, because darker colors will trap the heat, raising your body temperature and requiring more oxygen. Sunscreen is very important for persons with breathing problems as well, because if you are sunburned, your body temperature will rise, and not be so easy to cool down.

If you have to go out at all during the summer, plan all of your activities carefully, and try to limit your outdoor activities to the early morning or just after sundown, when the air is the coolest. Choose indoor areas that are air-conditioned to frequent, and park your car in the shade as much as possible. Keep the interior of your home as cool as possible as well, and if it gets to be too much, take a cool bath to lower your body temperature and keep your breathing issues to a minimum. Most important of all, be sure to take all of the medications you have been given, especially your oxygen.

by Juanita Swindell


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