Tips to Protect Your Lungs During the Harsh Winters

Health Insurance

T&C Apply

Buying health insurance for?
  • Self/Family
  • Domestic Workers
  • Investor

Winters accompany various festivals, meaning it’s the time to celebrate and enjoy with our family. But, for many, the winters are synonymous with lungs and respiratory issues. Although lung problems can occur anytime during the year, winters are dominated by fog and smog which intensifies respiratory issues. In harsh and dry winters, the conditions can worsen, leading to professional attention and hospitalisation. 

Nevertheless, the positive thing is that you can protect your lungs and respiratory health by taking a few precautions. Staying fit and maintaining a healthy diet is one way to keep your body immune to winter hypersensitivity. However, there are various things that you should do regularly during winter to keep your lungs healthy and enjoy the festive season to the fullest. The article below details various reasons that impact lung health and the measures you should take to avoid any respiratory issues. 

How can winters impact your lungs negatively?

During winters, the low temperatures and dry air cause stress on your lungs and respiratory organs. The smog and fog formations are predominant during the winter season, which further adds to the problem. The dry air irritates the respiratory tract causing breathlessness, wheezing and breathing problems. People with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are more vulnerable during the winter season, so they need to take proper precautions during the winter. In the case of extreme breathing conditions, they should immediately seek medical attention and avoid relying on home remedies. 

Improper breathing can cause nausea and other health issues such as headache, faster heart rate and high blood pressure. To protect your lungs during extreme winter weather, you can follow the tips mentioned below.

8 tips to protect your lungs during the winter season

Regular exercise and a healthy diet boost your energy and immunity against the harsh winters. But sometimes, just a physical workout and a healthy diet are not enough, and you may need to take additional precautions. Following are the eight tips to protect your lungs during the extreme winters. 

  • Keeping an active routine - With an active routine, you ensure proper blood circulation in your body, keeping it warm during the cold winters. With a healthy lifestyle, you can maintain an active pulmonary function that can withstand the stress of harsh winters. Additionally, proper blood circulation in the lungs keeps them clean and well-lubricated against dry winter air. On the other hand, if your surroundings are smoky and polluted, avoid stepping out for morning jogs and outdoor exercises, as it can worsen your lung health. To compensate, you can do indoor workouts or visit a gym, as these are safer options and reduce your vulnerability to bad air. In addition, you need to practise breathing exercises to increase your lungs’ endurance. 

  • Maintain tidiness around your surroundings - Along with an active routine, you need to keep your surroundings pollution-free. An indoor fireplace or a wood stove can also impact your lungs negatively. It is better to install a heating and air purification system inside your home to fix the problem of particulate matter and pollutants from outside entering your living space. Since the winter air is dry, you can use humidifiers and similar equipment to avoid bronchial irritations when inside the house. Regular bronchial irritation can lead to several complications, including chronic lung disease. In addition, keep your curtains, couches and sofas dust-free. Dusty surroundings can aggravate your lung conditions, so you should make tidiness a priority. 
    Stay away from passive and active smoking - Whether you smoke or not, winter is not the best time to be around any kind of smoking. If you are a smoker, you should stop your habit as it can make your lungs prone to various lung diseases. During winters, when your respiratory organs are already under stress, smoking can further dry your breathing tract, causing irritation and several other irreversible lung conditions. If you are a non-smoker, you should avoid getting into congested public places where there are chances of you inhaling smoke passively. While stepping out, you can cover your face with a muffler and mask to keep the pollution, smoke and particulates away. 

  • Avoid sicknesses that can impact your lungs - Winter is accompanied by numerous illnesses like flu and viral infections that can impact your lungs directly or indirectly. You should maintain proper hygiene to avoid such diseases since they can reduce your lungs efficiency and cause issues like breathlessness, wheezing, excessive cough and more. Additionally, you should avoid common colds and other airborne infections as they directly attack your respiratory system. If you feel you have contracted an infection, you should seek medical supervision without any delay, especially during the ongoing pandemic. 

  • Wear warm clothes and keep yourself dry - It may not seem to be an important precaution for protecting your lungs, but wearing warm clothes not only keeps your body temperature regulated but also maintains your immunity during the harsh winters. Getting exposed to chilly weather frequently can ruin your immune system’s ability to fight common infections like flu and pneumonia, which can further impact your lungs and respiratory health altogether. In addition, warm clothing provides an external layer of defence against various airborne infections and stops them from entering your body.  

  • Stay away from wood burning and smoky surroundings - Although household wood furnaces are obsolete, they are still used in the countryside and at restaurants for barbeque and cooking. If you are in the vicinity of such places, you should wear a mask and cover your face till the time you are exposed to such surroundings. If your profession forces you to stay around smoky surroundings such as boilers and furnaces for long hours, you should use medical equipment like gas masks and respirators to avoid smoke from getting into your lungs. 

  • Asthmatic individuals should carry inhalers all the time - Individuals already suffering from some kind of COPD are the most vulnerable to lung issues during the winter months. Whenever you step out, you should keep your medications and inhaler tubes handy. Additionally, you should keep your nose and mouth covered with a mask or soft cloth to keep the particulates from entering your body.

  • Keep your hands clean - In general, maintaining proper hygiene reduces the risk of infection from all kinds of illnesses. So, it is imperative to stay hygienic and keep your exposed body parts such as your face and hands clean and free from germs. Additionally, you should also avoid touching your nose, eyes or mouth with your hands because these are the gateways for germs to enter your body.

Things You Can Do During Winters If You Already Have COPD

Individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) need extra care during winters. Since they are already prone to lung infections, tackling the harsh winter months can be a tough task. However, if you have any respiratory issues, you can follow the tips mentioned below. 

  • During winters, the blood vessels narrow and oxygen sufficiency decreases, thereby forcing the lungs to work excessively. In such situations, you need to keep your body warm either by staying inside or by wearing warm clothes and covering your face and exposed body parts. 

  • Although COPD is not caused due to smoking, studies have shown that cigarette puffs are the major cause of worsening your respiratory conditions. Therefore, you should avoid any kind of active or passive smoking, especially during winters. 

  • Take your medications and vaccinations regularly and stick to the plan provided by your doctor. 

  • Avoid exercising outdoors during the winter months. Individuals with COPD are recommended to work out regularly. However, smog and polluted air during the winter can aggravate your lung issues. 

When should you seek medical supervision for lung conditions?

Extreme winter months can bring various lung issues and relying on home remedies is not always a good option. Whenever you feel breathing anomalies or discomfort while breathing, you should consult a professional. You should consult a doctor if you notice any of the following symptoms. 

  • Shallow breathing or frequent breathlessness
  • Wheezing
  • Persistent cough with mucus
  • Unusual tiredness throughout the day
  • Coughing with fever and loss of appetite

Whenever you feel uncomfortable breathing or find yourself getting tired easily, you should not rely on home remedies and consult your doctor immediately. 

Conclusion

Along with smog and pollutants, winter brings numerous lung and heart conditions. With extreme weather and dry air, you are prone to getting lung infections and respiratory issues. However, with a few precautions, you can take care of your lungs and health during the harsh winter months and enjoy the festive season to the fullest.

Atul Yadav
Atul Yadav

Atul has had a flair for writing ever since he started writing essays in school, which inspired him to subsequently opt for a career in writing. He loves to write about places he's been to (the list is endless) and financial products that can help people make a real change in planning their finances better.