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Tips for Healthy Lungs in the Summer

Tips for Healthy Lungs in the Summer
Laura Castricone, CRT

Summertime can be the best time of the year for some of the worst times of year for others. Anyone who suffers from a breathing issue can tell you that those hot, humid summer days can be daunting. As we are aware, breathing is a mechanism of inhaling the air around us, utilizing the oxygen in that air to transfer into our circulatory system, and exhaling the by-products that are mostly carbon dioxide.

Breathing not only involves the lungs, but the nose, sinuses, and the mouth as well. If any of these routes are blocked or impaired in any way, it can make it harder to breathe, and harder to get oxygen into the bloodstream to feed our muscles.

So, what are some of the challenges that people with breathing issues face in summer weather?

 Breathing Problems in Summer 

1. Allergies

A lot of people suffer from allergies. They can be “seasonal” as we see with the blooming of trees and grasses or chronic due to constant offense to the sinuses causing inflammation and swelling (i.e., pet dander, dust, mold, etc.). When pollen counts or ozone are high, it is best to stay indoors and run an air conditioner or air purifier to filter the air. Shower immediately after being outdoors, and don’t hang clothes outside to dry. Avoid mowing or weeding to keep exposure down. Wearing a mask outdoors on high pollen count days can help a lot. Seasonal allergies may be managed with some OTC preparations or with prescription medications. Always consult a physician or pharmacist before using any OTC drugs as it may interfere with what drugs you are currently taking.

2. Humidity

Humid air is dense and contains a lot of moisture. For people with breathing problems such as asthma, COPD, or chronic bronchitis, this air can make it extremely difficult to breathe. For those that suffer from sinus issues, humid air can increase congestion and cause headaches or facial swelling.

When the weather is very humid, it is best for those with breathing problems to stay indoors, preferably in air conditioning. It is recommended they minimize activities during these times, especially outdoors. For people with lung diseases, minimal exertion in this weather can cause exhaustion, dehydration, and lower oxygen levels.

3. Dehydration

Summer can be very hot! It does not take much to dehydrate yourself. When we sweat to keep our bodies cool, we can lose a lot of moisture when it is hot outside. Dehydration is a dangerous condition for anyone, but even mild dehydration can be detrimental to anyone with lung issues. Our bodies produce mucus to keep some of our organs functioning properly. Dehydration can dry out our mucus membranes or any mucus that is in the lungs and make it harder to expel it.

When mucus membranes are too dry, they cannot rid our bodies of foreign substances, and infections can set in. The best remedy is to hydrate as much as possible with plain old water. Coffee, alcohol, and soda are not good for hydration, and in fact, they can make you more dehydrated. If you cannot drink water, drink an electrolyte preparation like Gatorade or Pedialyte.


4. Smoke

Lately, in the U.S., we have been experiencing more forest fires than in decades past. With changing weather patterns and persistent droughts, all forests are at risk. Smoke from a fire in California can migrate across the country with the winds or with the jet stream. Smoke causes a lot more particulate matter to be present in the air. This particulate matter can be visible as “haze” in the sky. For people with lung or breathing issues, this is just another insult to the system.

It may cause coughing, congestion, itchy eyes, and heaviness in the chest making it difficult to breathe. On hazy days where smoke may be present in the air, try to stay indoors with the windows closed and use air conditioning or an air purifier to filter the ambient air. If you take breathing treatments, make sure you continue to take them as directed.

Easy Breathing This Summer 

Some smart purchases for summer for people with breathing issues:

  • Air conditioners or fans
  • Air Purifiers 
  • N95 or a comparable particulate mask 
  • Cover for the mattress and pillow 
  • Extra nebulizer kits (if you are taking nebulizer treatments) 
  • OTC preparations (with a doctor's permission)

These are just a few tips to enjoy good summer breathing! For any questions, always consult a medical practitioner.


Author Profile: Laura Castricone, Respiratory Therapist

Laura Castricone (Certified Respiratory Therapist)

My name is Laura Castricone and I am a Certified Respiratory Therapist. I have been practicing in the state of Connecticut since 1992. I have worked in several aspects of respiratory care including sleep medicine, critical care, rehab, and home care. I earned my respiratory certification at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, CT. Prior to becoming an RT, I attended the University of Connecticut pursuing a degree in English but left Uconn in my junior year to work with my father in the restaurant business. I stayed with him for over a dozen years. An education, by the way, that can never be bought! Once I married and had children, the restaurant business no longer fit my lifestyle. When my children were one and two years old, I decided to go back to school and that is where my career in respiratory care began. This career has been very rewarding and I have been blessed to meet some extraordinary people along the way. I grew up in Waterbury, CT, and now live in Litchfield County, CT with my husband and our crazy Jack Russell terrier, Hendrix. My hobbies include antiquing, gardening, writing plays, and painting miniature paintings.


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HPFY Laura Castricone, CRT

Laura Castricone, CRT

LinkedIn Profile My name is Laura Castricone and I am a Certified Respiratory Therapist. I have been practicing in the state of Connecticut since 1992. I have worked in several aspects of respiratory ...

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