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7 Tips for Protecting Your Lungs in the Frigid Temperatures

Jan2018image006Periods of extreme cold can present numerous dangers for individuals with lung disease as these conditions can cause difficulty with breathing. Although many patients choose to remain inside when temperatures drop to frigid temperatures, they must eventually brave the cold. During these times, individuals with lung disease should attempt to adhere to the following preventative measures:

1. Protect Oxygen Tubing from the Elements

When preparing to go outside during these extreme temperatures, oxygen tubing should be zipped inside an individual’s clothing. If the tubing is exposed to the cold, there is a risk that the cannula and oxygen tubing will quickly stiffen, which could reduce the flow of oxygen.

2. Pre-Heat Vehicles

If possible, vehicles should be pre-heated before sitting in one. The warmth of a vehicle will provide “a quick reprieve” for lungs following exposure to cold air and will also help the body warm up quickly.

3. Keep a Scarf Over Nose and Mouth

As long as a scarf is not wrapped too tight, it helps patients “to lock in the warm air” that they exhale. Although this can be a helpful technique, it is important to only use it for short periods of time in frigid temperatures.

4. Avoid Solely Carrying/Transporting Items

Breathing when exposed to extreme cold is already difficult for people with healthy lungs. This experience is amplified for those with lung disease. When possible, patients should request assistance from others to help carry and transport items including their oxygen tanks.

5. Drink a Glass of Warm Water When Returning Indoors

Many patients find it helpful to drink warm water to alleviate the “burning sensation of the lungs after exposure to the cold.” It’s key to note that the water should not be hot, but instead lukewarm or room temperature.

6. Park Vehicles in a Garage

Parking in a garage can be helpful for patients as they can avoid having to remove snow off a vehicle or scrape ice from a windshield. In turn, patients experience less exposure to the cold and can avoid excess exertion while outside.

7. Use Rescue Puffers Liberally

Many patients continue to “use various types of puffers, such as inhaled steroids, rescue inhalers or maintenance medication.” These products should be readily available for use at all times, especially during periods of extreme cold.

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