Five tips to help you breathe easier in the hot weather - Institute for Respiratory Health

Five tips to help you breathe easier in the hot weather

Monday, December 20, 2021 | Community

Summer is well and truly here and we’ve already had a few scorchers. But if you have a long-term lung condition, you’re more at risk of the heat affecting you.
Our hot summers can cause your symptoms to flare up, especially if you become dehydrated. Here are our top tips to look after yourself during those hot days:

1. Avoid the heat whenever you can

If possible, avoid going outside on extremely hot days but if you do need to go out try and plan your day around the early morning or evening when the temperature generally is a bit cooler and the air quality is better. Don’t forget to always carry a bag of essentials with you that contains all your medications and some cold water.

2. Check the weather and pollen forecasts

At this time of year, the pollen count can be high. And the high-pollen count can trigger an asthma attack. Whilst you’re checking out the weather forecast review the pollen count too. Many sites like provide information on levels of pollen and they cover details on the different types of pollen including grass and tree pollen too.

High pollen counts combined with extreme heat can be a trigger for your symptoms to flare-up, so keep an eye on these on a daily basis during the summer months.

Pollen levels tend to be the highest in the early morning and evening, so if you do suffer from hay fever, avoid opening windows at these times and use your aircon or a fan instead.

3. Drink plenty of water

We can often forget to drink plenty of fluids during the hot summer days. It’s important to make sure you drink regularly to stay hydrated. Remember drinks with caffeine in them such as coffee and tea can make you more dehydrated. Alcohol also dehydrates you.

4. Keep out of the sun

If you do need to go out during a hot day, avoid being in the sun for long periods of time. Wear sunglasses (not only to protect you from the sun but to stop pollen from getting into your eyes). Wear a hat to stop yourself from burning.

Some medications can make you more sensitive to sunlight. Check with your doctor whether your medication falls into this category, or read the information leaflet, as these medications will make your burn more quickly.

5. Be wise about when you exercise

If you have a lung condition exercising is really good for you but when the temperature soars you need to be careful that you don’t overheat. If you are exercising in the house, do it when it’s cool, or with the aircon on. Do your gardening and housework first thing in the morning (if it’s not too hot).

If you exercise through a pulmonary rehabilitation clinic, it’s important to talk to your prescribing exercise professional about how to exercise safely in the heat and to understand any danger signs.

These tips are helpful for everyone, whether you have a condition or not. For those with a lung condition, always remember to have enough medication at home and follow the storage instructions on the package.

By planning ahead for summer activities, staying hydrated and avoiding the heat, you can enjoy everything that summer has to offer – even when managing a lung condition.