Winter is a time when many people deal with respiratory illnesses. This is typically a minor issue for most people, but for those with respiratory conditions like COPD, minor respiratory illnesses can become a serious problem and even lead to hospitalization. It’s especially important during this time of year that those with respiratory conditions protect and preserve their health. Here are a few tips to help you do just that.
Practice Good Hygiene
It might sound basic, but sometimes, simple hygiene practices can be your best defense against illness. Wash your hands frequently and carry hand sanitizer with you. Keep your hands clean, and avoid touching your face any time that your hands aren’t freshly cleaned.
Additionally, consider wearing a mask when out in public. Masks have become a commonplace practice due to the continued prevalence of COVID-19. However, those with respiratory issues should consider wearing one at any time that respiratory viruses are commonly transmitted—namely, cold and flu season, which peaks between December and February. These simple measures can be the best way to protect yourself from respiratory illness at this time of year.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
While this sounds like another simple tip, it can be more difficult than it sounds for those with chronic respiratory illnesses. If you have a CPAP or BiPAP machine, make sure that you use it every night. Follow a good bedtime routine as well: Set a bedtime and stick to it. Avoid screens for an hour before bed. Keep your room cool and dark. Effective, restful sleep will help your body to be more prepared to fight off any viruses you may encounter this winter.
Avoid Smoky Environments
During the warmer months, avoiding smoky environments is usually as simple as staying away from people who are smoking cigarettes. However, in the winter, smoke becomes much more common. For example, you might visit a friend or family member who has a fire going in the wood-burning fireplace. Or, you might be invited to an outdoor bonfire with friends. While these can be wonderful social environments, the smoke caused by these fires can impact your lung health. Unfortunately, roasting chestnuts on an open fire simply isn’t a good idea for those with respiratory issues.
Stay Indoors on Days with Low Air Quality
In the winter, many areas become prone to lower air quality than normal. While this is often a regional issue, if you have respiratory conditions, you should be paying attention to the air quality in your area. If you notice that the air quality has diminished and the AQI (Air Quality Index) values are above 100, you should do your best to stay indoors. If you must go outside, try to minimize your exertion levels and return indoors as soon as possible. Depending on your condition, you may also consider bringing an oxygen therapy device with you.
While you shouldn’t exert yourself outdoors on a day with low air quality, you should still make an effort to get some type of physical exertion in every day. Regular physical activity is one of the best ways to improve your respiratory health. Be sure to consult with your doctor before beginning any new workout regimen, and to get help finding a level of physical activity that is appropriate for your current health.
As we’ve already mentioned, even minor respiratory illnesses can cause severe distress in those with COPD and other chronic respiratory conditions. It’s important that you receive your annual flu vaccine to help your body combat this common winter illness. While we’re already well into the flu season, you should still look for a flu vaccine in your area. As the saying goes, it’s better late than never!
Additionally, if you have not yet been vaccinated for COVID-19, speak to your doctor about getting your first shot as soon as possible. If you have been vaccinated already, look into receiving a booster shot; booster doses have been recommended for senior citizens and those with chronic health conditions. Individuals with respiratory health issues like COPD are at a high risk of severe complications from COVID-19. Don’t take the risk.
Get the Equipment You Need
If you have a respiratory health condition, it’s important that you have the equipment and devices you need to properly treat your condition—no matter what season it is. At Elixair Medical, we carry a range of devices for oxygen therapy and respiratory therapy. Contact us today for help finding the tools you need to better care for your health throughout the winter and year round.