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26th July 2019

How to cope with breathlessness in hot weather

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As temperatures reached record highs yesterday, most of the UK basked in the sunshine. However, for people with lung cancer, hot weather can intensify symptoms, such as breathlessness.

Feeling short of breath can have a significant impact on your quality of life. Not only does it affect you physically, but it can stop you from doing things you used to do which also has a significant impact on your mental health.

Here are our top tips for managing breathlessness:

Keep out of the sun

We know – it’s taken ages for summer to get here and now we’re saying stay out of the sun! The heat, along with increased pollen levels, often intensifies breathlessness.

If you do need to go out, try to avoid the hottest part of the day (usually 11am – 3pm). Stay in the shade and make sure you wear plenty of high-factor sun cream. Wear loose fitting clothing as well as a hat and sunglasses.

Stay hydrated

It is really important to drink plenty of cold water and stay hydrated during these hot temperatures. Coconut water is also a very drink for rehydrating.

Try and avoid tea and coffee and drinks that are high in sugar as these will only dehydrate you more.

Many forms of lung cancer treatment, like chemotherapy and radiotherapy, are already dehydrating and the hot weather makes it worse, so drink water regularly even if you don’t feel thirsty. If you’re heading out, be sure to take a bottle with you.

You can also eat food with a higher water concentration such as watermelon (clues in the name!), cucumbers, celery, oranges and strawberries.

Cool showers

If you’re feeling the heat, a cool shower or bath can help cool you down. If you are going out, take a cool water spray bottle with you.

If you struggle with breathlessness, you should avoid having too hot showers or baths generally as the steam can further affect your breathing.

Find somewhere to chill

A cinema is a great place to escape the heat

Because we don’t often have this kind of intense heat, we don’t tend to have air con installed in our homes or workplaces. However, there are places that do! Take a gentle stroll through a museum or go to the cinema and enjoy a movie in air-conditioned comfort.

Exercise sensibly

Exercising when you’re feeling breathless is hard enough. Throw in this heat and it’s even more of a challenge. However, light exercise can improve your breathing, as well as having a positive impact on your mental health. Avoid exercising outside. Instead go to the gym and enjoy a gentle walk on the treadmill or take a dip in your local pool.

Utilise the morning and the evenings

The hottest part of the day tends to be between 11am and 3pm so try and avoid doing anything too strenuous or anything you need to do outside during this time.

We’re a fan of a fan

Using an electric or handheld fan can help to reduce feelings of breathlessness, as well as cooling you down. If you haven’t used your fan for a while, make sure to give it a clean; blowing dust in your face is not going to help matters!