Now that autumn has well and truly arrived, it’s a good time to prepare for the winter months ahead. Many people living with lung cancer can experience a flare up of symptoms, such as breathlessness, when the temperature drops.
Here are some of our top tips for keeping well in the colder weather:
Try to avoid colds and flu
Colds and flu spread very easily, and if you’re living with lung cancer, there is a higher risk of you developing flu-related complications. Your GP or lung cancer nurse specialist will usually recommend that you have the flu vaccine if you’re living with lung cancer. The flu virus changes every year, so it is important to get the vaccine again, even if you have had it in previous years.
Third Covid-19 vaccination
A third vaccine against coronavirus will be offered to people who have weekend immune systems, including many lung cancer patients. NHS invitations for people in England are now being sent out to those who are eligible for a third vaccine. For more information on the third coronavirus vaccine and lung cancer, click here.
Look after your mental health
Colder weather mixed with fewer daylight hours can lead to feelings of low-mood, or even seasonal depression. It is important to take the time to look after your mental health as well as your physical health during the winter months. Keep in touch with your friends and family and reach out to them if you need any additional support.
Don’t worry – this doesn’t mean running a marathon! Just moving around your house can help you generate body heat and keep active. We have some great chair exercises and tips for undertaking light exercise here.
If you can, why not schedule a gentle walk with a friend around your neighbourhood into your week, this will do wonders for your mental health too.
Breathing in cold air can increase the risk of respiratory infections, keep your home heated to at least 18°c and make sure to wear layers of clothing when it’s cold. Keep wrapped up with extra blankets and a hot water bottle when it’s extra cold.
Loss of appetite is a common side effect in people with lung cancer. It is really important for you to be eating well during the winter to maintain your energy levels. If you can, try to eat at least one hot meal a day. Eating smaller meals more often can be less of a challenge than a big plate of food. Nutritious soups are a good meal idea in the colder months, they are packed full of vitamins and will help to keep you warm. For more top tips on eating well with lung cancer, click here.
Before you are due to leave the house, make sure to check the weather. If there are high winds, this could affect your breathing, so maybe rearrange your trip out if you can.
When you are out and about, layer your clothing. Thermal vests or thermal leggings can be useful pieces of clothing to layer up with.
Even in the cold it is really important to stay hydrated. The body doesn’t recognise thirst as well as it does in the warmer months, so make sure you sip a drink regularly throughout the day.
For more tips and advice on managing your symptoms and keeping warm in the cold weather, head to our lung cancer forum.
We have several information booklets available, including one dedicated to managing lung cancer symptoms.