The Women's Journal

Springtime Help For COPD

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By Kristin Stetler Donovan, Owner, Age Advantage of Newark 

Most of us can’t wait for the days to get longer and the weather to get warmer. But for those with COPD, the seasonal changes aren’t nearly as welcome. According to, “Temperature and weather can cause COPD symptoms to worsen. Cold, dry air or hot air can trigger a flare-up. According to a study, temperature extremes, below freezing and above 90°F (32°C), are particularly dangerous. Add in other factors, such as wind and humidity, and the risk of a COPD flare-up increases.”

Rising heat and humidity can make it more difficult to catch your breath. If you have a chronic lung condition, such as asthma or COPD, you may struggle even more with changing weather conditions.

There are several things that can minimize the impact of rapid changes in temperature and barometric pressure:

  • Adapt to the weather – If you’re going from hot outside weather to air conditioning, put on a sweater. Going from a heated building into cold weather? Dress warmly and cover your nose and mouth. The cover will help warm and humidify the air as you breathe in.
  • Avoid triggers you can control – Environmental triggers can also make it difficult to breathe. If you smoke, get help to quit. If you are a non-smoker, you should avoid second-hand smoke and other potential irritants, which include: other types of smoke, fumes, aerosol products, insecticides, cleaning products, mold, mildew and dust. 
  • Talk to your doctor about medication – Your doctor can prescribe medications to help manage weather-related breathing difficulties if you have a chronic lung condition. These may include bronchodilators, anti-inflammatory agents, oxygen or antibiotics.
  • Embrace a healthy lifestyle – besides adjusting to changing air quality and avoiding irritants, there are other things you can do every day to help you breathe easier. Focus on maintaining a healthy diet and commit to a structured exercise program, both of which can minimize the likelihood of respiratory infections and control stress.
  • Lastly, know when to see your doctor – even though it may seem normal to have weather-related breathing issues when weather conditions change, there are times when it is important to seek medical assistance.
  • According to the Cleveland Clinic “Any shortness of breath should be immediately evaluated, as should any shortness of breath that can’t be explained by cold or flu or by just being ‘out of shape,’ and if at any point you notice you’re having breathing difficulty that’s interfering with your normal activity, you need to seek medical care to have your symptoms further evaluated.”

Seniors suffering from breathing issues have even more difficulty performing their normal daily activities. A chore as simple as vacuuming becomes nearly impossible, requiring frequent rests and breaks, all the while struggling to breathe. One can only imagine the frustration and feelings of depression caused by a senior’s inability to do things for themselves. It is so important for seniors to know and understand that there are services available, such as Age Advantage Senior Care Services, that can provide additional assistance and support. Our priority is assisting individuals to remain independent within their own home.


“Kudos to Age Advantage!!! I was enormously impressed with your quick response to our immediate and dire need. I met some of your folks and they were delightful. My mother was certainly in good hands. Thanks for your efforts on a late Friday afternoon. All the best.” ~ D.F.