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    • #16138

      Wherever you’re joining the forums from, I sure hope the temperatures are warmer than those in Canada at the moment. My fellow Canadians and I are preparing for the “polar vortex” apparently headed our way this weekend, accordingly several radio and weather stations. It feels as though it is already here (minus the snow accumulation) as the temperature is predicted to plummet to -24 degrees celsius with the windchill tonight.

      These temperatures are dangerous for anyone, and have caused many large Canadian cities to issue an extreme cold weather alert, prompting homeless shelters to remain open and accessible 24 hours/day. However, for those of us living with a life-threatening lung disease, breathing in this cold air can be very problematic. This will be my third Canadian winter since being diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and each year, when the temperatures drop this low, I tend to learn the hard way just how difficult it is to breathe.

      I find it beneficial to review several columns that I’ve written in the past about my experience of dealing with IPF and the cold weather, along with other columnists’ experiences too. It seems as though each of us tolerate the extreme temperatures differently, as some are bothered by the cold, whereas others find really hot temperatures more difficult to bare. Which extreme temperature bothers you more: hot or cold? 

      If you’re like me, it is definitely the cold, as I find breathing in negative temperatures (such as those tonight) nearly impossible as it triggers a cough that is hard to get rid of. When faced with really cold temperatures, there are a number of ways to protect your lungs from the frigid air. I wrote about several of them in a column last January, which you can find here. However, to summarize, here are the top three ways I protect my lungs in the cold, and find most effective when dealing with negative temperatures:

      • Zip up my oxygen tubing under my coat: whenever I am outside for more than a few minutes, I zip up my tubing into my coat which helps keep the cannula warmer and the flow of oxygen a bit more consistent because the plastic doesn’t stiffen in the cold.
      • Cover my nose & mouth: I didn’t think I’d like this option due to being fearful of not being able to breathe, but having a loose scarf over my nose and mouth really seems to prevent  breathing in the cold air into my lungs.
      • Have someone start my car: this has been so helpful to me the past two winters! My colleagues all ofter to start my car and crank the heat for me when they leave, and I follow shortly after. Having the car warmed up in advance helps me get warmer faster after being outside, and is better for my portable oxygen concentrator (POC) too as it shouldn’t be subjected to really cold temperatures either.


      Do you use any of these tips when protecting your lungs from the frigid temperatures?

      Do you have any other tips to share when dealing with the cold winters as a patient with IPF/PF?

    • #19575

      Charlene –

      Very cold temperatures make it harder for me to breathe.  I try to limit my time outside when the temperature in Ohio are frigid.  I am also recently having a harder time breathing when it is hot and humid.  I am not sure if the hot and humid weather has to do with the fact that I was recently diagnosed with allergies to various grasses and trees.


      • #19590

        The cold dry air is definitely tough for me. That’s when I had an incessant cough, and first noticed the shortness of breath. I’ve never liked air conditioning, but now that I’ve been officially diagnosed with PF I did get one for my bedroom last week. We get hot and humid here in RI and I think I might need a room to retreat to. Lots of folks on this forum say hot/humid air is tough for breathing.

        • #19602

          Hi Cynthia,

          So nice to hear from you – do you and Paula have a coffee date set yet? Have been thinking of you both 🙂
          Yes, I am the same as you: cold, dry air brings on constant coughing which is exhausting. Unfortunately, the heat and humidity is difficult to breathe in as well but doesn’t cause a cough. Just tends to make my chest heavy and my difficulty to breathe lingers. Hopefully this summer won’t be too humid for you, and I’m glad you put an air conditioner in. This really helps me during the hot months in the summer! talk to you soon.

        • #19605
          Mark Koziol

          Hello Cynthia, the cold is one of the elements your lungs can not endure. They have to be protected at all times in cold weather. Before I had my transplant I barely went out in the cold, one major reason was I was suffering from rsv and an ipf flare up. When I did I covered up with a scarf. After my transplant my wife bought a fleece mask and under armor nfl mask that can be purchased at dicks. I would also wear my surgical mask or vogmask. In extreme cold I would wear all three and if was just cold, the fleece would suffice.

    • #19586

      Hi Marianne,

      Thanks for writing and sharing your thoughts. Yes, I agree: the cold weather makes it really difficult for me to breathe as well and unfortunately, I am quite effected by the heat and humidity as well. I was reminded of this recently with our first real humid (and rainy!) day this spring, so I’ll probably re-visit this topic as a forum post in the near future. I’ve previously written about this in a column if you’re interested in reading it, you can find it here:  🙂

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