It’s the dog days of summer that slow most of us to a crawl in search of shade, ice and water – in no particular order. But for people with asthma and other respiratory conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the combination of high heat and humidity with congested and polluted air can leave us gasping for breath and too tired to care.
Here are a few tips for staying hydrated, cool and breathing easy, especially if you don’t have air conditioning:
1) Use your quick-relief inhaler at the FIRST sign of symptoms. If you’re not breathing well within 30 minutes after use, follow your written asthma action plan or call your physician for further instructions – but don’t wait until symptoms become life-threatening. That’s risky business, particularly in this heat.
2) Drink LOTS and LOTS of water or sports drinks to replenish electrolytes, or blend whole fruit into one of these easy-breezy waterlogged thirst quenchers (hint: the name is the recipe!): Watermelon on Ice with a Lime Wedge, Pineapple Honeydew Drencher, Peach Puzzler with Bing Cherry Floaters… or try some iced coffee.
3) If you must sit outside to watch the children playing, soak your tootsies in a basin or tub of ice water.
4) Drench a dishtowel in ice water and sling it around the back of your neck. Repeat often.
5) Go see a funny movie at the theater!
6) Go to the grocery store and stand in the frozen-food section as long as possible during the heat of the day!
7) When watering your garden, squirt yourself with the hose. So what if the neighbors are watching?
8) Mind over matter: Convince yourself that it’s snowing outside and you just ate a hot bowl of chili.
9) If you don’t need it plugged in, unplug it. You’d be surprised how many of our gadgets give off heat.
10) And if the air conditioning isn’t working at the office – GO HOME! Working under unhealthy conditions is, well, not healthy.