Living well in Winter

The winter months represent a festive and fun-filled time for the majority of people, stacked full of family gatherings, tree trimming and present buying.

However, if you are living with COPD, you might already feel as though your schedule is hectic enough as you balance treatments and appointments with everyday life. This, alongside cold weather and an increased risk of catching a cold or flu, might leave you feeling stressed or anxious at the thought of the holiday season.

With some forward planning and clever thinking, it is possible to stay healthy and enjoy the festive season, even if you have COPD.

Read on for some tips to make this Christmas an occasion to remember, for all of the right reasons!

For more information about any of the tips, speak to your doctor.

Avoid catching colds or flu

Cold and flu are caused by viruses, which are spread by droplets sneezed out by an infected person. These can easily pass from person to person, or even from surface to person15. To reduce your risk of catching and spreading infections, follow a few simple hygiene measures:

Use antiseptic wipes to clear surfaces e.g. your computer keyboard or phone

Throw away used tissues as soon as possible

Speak to your doctor about the potential benefits of a flu jab

Wash your hands regularly

Use hand sanitiser when you are on the go

Improve your breathing

Read the following tips for advice on how to manage your COPD symptoms in cold weather an improve your breathing:

  • Avoid going out in particularly cold weather
  • If cold or windy weather leaves you feeling short of breath, try loosely wearing a scarf over your mouth and nose. This warms the air before it enters your lungs and can help manage your symptoms
  • If you use an oxygen tank, keep your tubing inside your clothing to keep it warm
  • If the weather isn’t suitable to go outside, there are a variety of exercises you can do at home to stay active.
  • If you have a central heating system, consider replacing the air filters to minimise the amount of dust in your home, as this will also irritate your lungs.

Keep Warm

One of the best ways to stay healthy during the winter is to keep warm:

If your heating has a timer, set it so that your heating turns on just before you get up in the morning.

Heat your home to 18°C

Keep your bedroom at this temperature all night if you can

Use a hot water bottle to stay warm in bed

Save money on your heating bills by only turning on the radiators in the rooms that you use most

Close curtains and shut doors in your home

Wear several layers of loose fitting clothing

Cotton, wool or fleecy fibres are most effective at maintaining heat