Treating COPD Symptoms Throughout The Winter

Treating COPD Symptoms Throughout The Winter

How to minimize discomfort throughout the colder months

Winter weather can be a shock to our bodies.

The extreme changes in temperature can cause anyone to experience an increase in fatigue but for those with pre-existing conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), symptoms can worsen as the temperature outside continues to drop.

Although symptoms may become more pronounced during cold weather, the good news is that there are a variety of solutions and strategies that can ensure you or a loved one with a chronic lung condition stays comfortable!

In the following article we’ll break down the common symptoms of COPD, why cold temperatures impact these symptoms and our top strategies to minimize discomfort in the cold. 

Common Symptoms of COPD: 

First, it's important to note that COPD is a term used to describe a range of lung conditions. These include chronic bronchitis and emphysema.  Being diagnosed with COPD means that someone has either one or both of these conditions that can damage the lungs.

Recent studies has shown that nearly 12 million Americans have been diagnosed with COPD. It's a fairly common chronic condition where symptoms are consistent for most people. These symptoms can include:  

  • Dry coughing
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Respiratory infections
  • Chest pressure


Cold Temperatures and COPD: 

Colder temperatures have been shown to trigger COPD flare-ups.

But why? 

One of the major factors that worsens COPD symptoms during the winter is due to the cold air-  resulting in a variety of side-effects including wheezing, coughing, mucus production and shallow breathing. 

Most people with chronic respiratory conditions will notice that as the air becomes colder it begins to contain less moisture compared to warm air. Meaning the humidity in the air must be warmed up to body temperature before reaching our lungs, making the journey from inhale to exhale longer and harder. 

So what can someone with COPD do to minimize symptoms in the cold weather? 

Tips for Staying Comfortable This Winter: 

Avoid The Coldest Hours of The Day

It’s important to move around and stay active in the winter months but be sure to walk during daylight hours if you can. This not only ensures you’re walking in the highest temperatures but also can minimize the risk of falls in and slips that are common when walking in limited visibility. 

Get a Humidifier for The Home

Making sure the air does not become too dry during the winter months is essential. Try using a humidifier throughout the home or while you sleep to minimize throat irritation. 

Maintain a Healthy Diet

It’s common for many of us to indulge in sweets during the holiday seasons but we suggest trying to maintain a diet that avoids sodium-rich foods and dairy that can trigger inflammation. By avoiding dairy you can also minimize mucus production. 

Consider a Rescue Inhaler

Be sure to talk with your primary doctor to see if taking a preventative dose of your inhaler before any type of exercise is advised. By carrying a rescue inhaler you can make sure you’re ready if any of your symptoms flare up while outside. 

Avoid Smokey Air

This is important throughout the entire year, but for those with COPD or asthma be sure to take extra caution in the winter. It’s not uncommon to be around wood smoke especially if you’re heating your home with a fireplace. This type of smoke can be a major lung irritant. 

Although there’s no cure for COPD there are still a lot of things you can do this winter to make life more manageable. With proper treatment and implementing some of the strategies we listed above, it’s possible to reduce the risk of complications throughout the winter. 

And if you would like more tips or have a question specific to COPD someone from our expert team would be more than happy to help. Contact us today at (212) 321-5113 or 

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