Breathless in cold weather

#1 Guest_SeaSprite_*

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22 November 2008 - 09:17 PM

Does anyone else have increased shortness of breath during the cold weather? Since the temps have dropped it seems like it takes a lot more work for me to breathe normally - normal for me anyways - and a lot less activity to become more breathless. Why is that?

Sea :unsure:

#2 Darrell

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22 November 2008 - 09:48 PM

I don't know which component of the COPD is responsible for the cold air breathing problem but I believe my doctor said it was asthma or like asthma. Clearly my lungs don't function well in cold weather. It helps to breathe through a scarf or some other way to try to pre-warm the air first. However I do find that if the cold is introduced gradually I can tolerate it quite well. Like you my Dx is very severe COPD and my fev1 runs in the low 20s. Hope this helps. Also it would be nice if anyone else has experience or suggestions on dealing with this issue.

#3 Guest_Eileen/MA_*

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22 November 2008 - 11:02 PM

Hi Sea and Darrell,

I've often wondered that myself. I don't have a lot of problems in winter going out, mainly because I cover my mouth so that I don't breathe in the harsh air without a scarf covering my mouth. There are some theories out there and I found a very interesting article by Mary Burns. Here is a an excerpt:

Wayne asks, "Why do people with COPD have more trouble breathing with cold weather?" One of the detailed answers is above. The air tends to be drier, or our heating of the air makes it drier. Cold air can also cause bronchospasm (narrowing of the air passages), especially when there is also a strong wind to contend with. You can compensate for this by wearing a ski mask, covering your nose and mouth with a scarf, or turning your back to the wind.

Come out of your car slowly, to compensate for sudden temperature change, which can also cause bronchospasm. That is, open the door for a few seconds before suddenly getting out of the car.

Really cold air can actually freeze the hairs in your nose! Can you imagine what it could do to the fragile tissue in your lungs, which are one-sixtieth the thickness of a cobweb? Be reassured. Your respiratory system has a much more efficient temperature control mechanism than anything that has been designed by man. Whether the air you breathe in is 160 degrees above zero and almost hot enough to fry eggs, or 80 degrees below zero and freezing everything else in sight, from the time this air enters your nose, until the time it enters your lungs, that air has become body temperature! For those of you who are looking for miracles look no further. This is one that leaves me breathless when I consider the wonder of it.

You can read the entire article here.

#4 Guest_SeaSprite_*

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23 November 2008 - 02:20 AM

This is really a good article. Thank you for sharing it here.

Darrell I have asthma too. They call it severe asthma at the doctor's office. Like you, I tend to cover my nose and mouth when it is too cold out especially if there is a gusty wind going.


#5 Tim

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23 November 2008 - 09:39 AM

Just to add my two cents worth here..... :unsure:

It's hard for me to pace when I'm out in the cold and trying to get from the car, back in doors or vice versa. I seem to rush and always find myself SOB. I know it's hard to slow down when you feel like your freezing to death but I try to make a conscious effort to do just that. I've learned over the last few years that a regular exercise program has helped me with this problem more then anything else. I am able to move a little faster without becoming so SOB.

I also have a high collar on my winter coat that when zipped up, it comes to just above my
nostrils. I zip my o2 hose inside my coat and hide the bottom portion of my face behind
my collar. I look like a turtle with my face half hidden and with my black watch stocking cap on, but at least I can breathe. And if you happen to take a look around while your out there, everybody else seems to look the same anyway.

This is a good conversation and I agree with Darrel, it would be nice to hear how others cope with this problem.

EZ Breathing :ph34r:


#6 peg

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24 November 2008 - 12:18 AM

This is really a problem for me. The cold air just stops me short. Wind does also, even in good breathing weather. Eileen, I like the idea in your article about just opening the car door but staying seated until you adjust a bit - getting used to the cold gradually. I tend to want to get back out of the cold quickly, so maybe I hurry more when it's cold and the hurrying is not good. My FEV1 is at 21 so I don't have a lot to go on and with pacing I'm amazed at what I can do. Also, I think I tend to "gasp" sort of breathe, even though I know better, but with the shock of the cold it's a natural instinct, then I'm shot. Makes me laugh to think about ME hurrying these days. As my dad would say...I wouldn't know a hurry if I saw one!! :unsure:

Darrell and Sea, sounds like the covering up works for you. I'll have to try that more. The asthma is not particularly the problem, tho. The docs say I do not have the asthma part. It's just our lungs. We're not running with a full deck here, any of us, so help like this to find ways to make up for what used to happen naturally is great for all of us. :ph34r:

#7 Guest_SeaSprite_*

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24 November 2008 - 10:40 AM

Hey Peg. Last year I ordered one of these masks found here: http://www.breathehealthy.net

The mask was so helpful that I went back and got another one and also purchased their breathing mist. That mist helps me a lot during "bad" weather times. It's actually 100% natural oils and uses the oils that are helpful to our respiratory system. Also deters viral and bacterial germies. There is more good news. These masks and mists are affordable. So much so that I went back again and got masks and mist for my daughter and my sister's kid who restores old houses.

Oh, and they are also very effective when doing housework that stirs up dust, and vacuuming and such. So many uses. I wore mine to the doctor's office, too, to avoid getting those nasty flu germs and such. My FEV1 is around 21 as well so we can't be too careful.

I have no affiliation with the company other than the fact that I am a satisfied customer. :unsure: Hope this helps someone out there. If anyone else can help us out with suggestions and ideas, please post. We must help each other.


#8 Guest_eglinton_*

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24 November 2008 - 12:46 PM

As Tim says ,a very useful topic. I have the same problem and also use a silk scarf which does the job.

I've tried using the conventional surgical mask and the other "cardboardie" type but as a spectacle wearer, I find that my specs will fog up and then I can't see!! How does that sound to Sea ?

Might I ask that he would give me details of the make and manufacturer he finds so successful and where it was bought. If I cannot scource it here I will ask some US relative to do the needful. I doubt if the Board admin would pbject to this course , I hope.

#9 Guest_SeaSprite_*

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24 November 2008 - 01:10 PM

Hi eg. We can't have those specs fogging up. Got to be able to see.

The company that makes these masks is Black Forest Corp. Here is what I copied from the bottom of their website:

© 2008 Black Forest Corporation, Lynchburg, Virginia.

Mailing Address:

Black Forest Corporation
P. O. Box 4155
Lynchburg VA 24502

Phone: 434-525-6431

The following is a little blurb they have on their site about the mask and mists. These masks are made of cloth and are easy to adust to fit. They have the loops that loop behind the ears and that is adjustable. Also, there is a flexible little thing that is inside the mask at the top of the nose and you can fit this over the bridge of your nose. This will help in keeping your specs clear of fog.

Breathe Healthy Masks TM: Effective
Protection Against

Colds & Flu
Airborne Particles
Cold Weather
Mold Spores
Loss of Body Heat

I have been so very pleased with their products and the owner even returned my phone call on a weekend. So nice.
I hope this helps you eg.


#10 Guest_eglinton_*

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25 November 2008 - 12:52 PM

Many thanks Sea for the prompt and informative reply.

Hopefully I'll now be able to "sea" in the cold.

#11 peg

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03 December 2008 - 12:31 AM

Great Information. Going to check with my oxygen distributor and Walgreen before I order it. But I am very grateful to have the info. Will copy it and take it into rehab on Thursday, because a lot of us could use it instead of a scarf, and I like the idea of the mist, too.

Thanks for sharing that info so quickly. :lol:

#12 Trudy

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03 December 2008 - 08:06 PM

Some of you I haven't met, and others of you I know. :-) Hi to you all! I don't get here as often as I'd like anymore, but I just had to get to BBLW tonight to learn and to feel not alone and at home. :) I really miss you all, but I am immensely enjoying my writing course.

I, too, have major problems with the cold. Just a breath of cold air, and my bronchial tubes seem to shut up tight. I do use a coat with a high collar and a warm scarf, but I still can't handle too much in the cold. Sometimes if my DH drops me off by a store door and it's out of the wind, it works. But if I get too much of the cold, I tighten up more and can't get rid of mucus that needs to get out and I catch infection quicker. I've tried to convince myself that I can handle the cold, but no success. My DH says I too often try to be such a toughie. :rolleyes: I am now in my winter semi-hibernation. I'm not feeling as locked in though so far this winter. It's been such a blessing for us to have moved to this 55+condo. I can get the mail and walk the hallway without having to go out. :( And the neighbors are great.

Know that even when I don't get to the board, I think of you all! :o I've just been subscribing to some of the forums so I'll get daily updates. Hopefully that will keep me more in touch.

#13 Guest_Eileen/MA_*

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03 December 2008 - 09:10 PM

Hi Trudy! It's so great to see you here! I'm happy for you that your writing course is going so well, but I'm sure you know that we miss you too. Take good care of yourself this winter, friend.

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