The holidays can be a stressful time for everyone and people with COPD should take extra precautions to avoid over-exerting themselves mentally and physically, over-eating, and stressing. If you are one of the 16 million Americans with COPD, avoiding these COPD triggers over holidays will make everything more enjoyable and you will run a lower risk of getting sick or experiencing a COPD exacerbation.
However, this holiday season, 2020 and going into 2021, the global COIVD-19 pandemic is making this holiday season even more difficult, especially for our family and friends that have COPD.
With COVID-19 cases increasing as we are getting more into the holiday season, public health experts are encouraging people to be even more stringent about social distancing, and limiting travel.
These unprecedented circumstances have changed almost everything, including the ways we interact with people. Connecting virtually with loved ones and family members is one of the only ways to safely spend this lovely time of year together, even in the weeds of a pandemic.
If you have never tried FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts or any other form of face to face virtual communication, there is no better time to do so! Also, stay on the look out for a new LPT Medical blog about connecting with family and friends digitally!
The Importance of Holidays and Social Connection
Holidays give us a sense of belonging, and they bring our most loved people together into one place. This tradition should continue into this year in some way shape or form. So, start spreading the idea that creating new traditions amongst your family members can be very joyful and fun.
That being said, holidays can be exciting and fun, but for people who suffer from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) holidays can also initiate stress and other COPD triggers.
In this article we are going to discuss how you can avoid COPD exacerbations throughout the holidays, and minimize your chances of getting sick.
COPD and the Holidays
If you have COPD, be prepared this holiday season. It is unfortunate, but living carefree and enjoying the holidays can be difficult for those that suffer from ongoing medical conditions, such as COPD. The extra effort it takes to just to breathe can cause any holiday to be just that much more stressful, not to mention the added stress of a global pandemic. However, there is relief, and we have compiled some helpful COPD tips for the holiday!
Helpful COPD Tips for the Holidays
The holiday season is famously the time of year we get to relax and spend quality time with loved ones, but it does pose real risk for additional anxiety and increased stress, which can be triggering for patients with COPD. So here some helpful tips for you!
Of course it is recommended not to travel for the holidays this year, but if you are traveling, be prepared, be prepared more than you have ever been before.
You don't only need to remember all of your medications and be sure you have your portable oxygen concentrator (POC) or oxygen tank, you also have to make sure that you have an extra POC battery, and your POC AC and DC charger cables. Should your POC start to run low, you want to avoid having to stop into a location to charge your oxygen device in order to avoid contact with strangers and surfaces. If you do not have an extra battery or other oxygen accessories, all of those items can be found on our website.
Watch What you Eat
If you have COPD it is important to avoid overeating. This is much easier said than done especially during the holidays, but portion control can be the difference between enjoying your holiday versus spending it in the hospital
Medically, a full stomach can press on the diaphragm. This will increase the regular symptoms of COPD that include breathlessness, and can often induce a COPD exacerbation.
Eating healthy foods that help with COPD symptoms is a must during the holidays, especially if cold weather is a factor in your area. Minimizing the chances of triggering a COPD exacerbation is key to enjoying the holidays, and if you can’t control the cold weather, you can control what you eat, so eat healthy.
Everything may look delicious, but go with the fresh veggies, greek yogurt dip, whole grain items, potatoes and smoked turkey (in small portions) because these are all great options to choose from. You can even suggest these dishes in advance, some people love to have ideas before they decide on what food they will bring to the potluck.
Limit shopping to what’s absolutely necessary. This year is more financially taxing for most people than any year in the past, so there is no absolutely no shame in expressing your gratitude in other ways rather than in material gifts.
As a person with COPD, it is never advisable to be out shopping among large groups of people, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic and flu season. Luckily, you can do much of your shopping from the comfort and safety of your home!
Even small local businesses have developed their online platform as a result of COVID-19 restrictions in many areas. So you will still have the option of buying thoughtful gifts that only your favorite local stores supply rather than buying from bulk operations like Amazon.
Our small family owned business, LPT Medical, invites you to shop with us online or over the phone at 1-800-946-1201 for any of your oxygen therapy necessities or accessories. From portable oxygen concentrators like the Caire FreeStyle Comfort, The Inogen One G5, or the Respironics SimplyGo, to any and all of the accessories you need to make the most of them we have some great holiday deals that our respiratory specialists would be happy to discuss with you. If you would like to know how much portable oxygen concentrator costs please call us at 1-800-946-1201, for all of your oxygen inquires and questions.
Watch What you Carry
If you do decide to venture out to go shopping, don’t be afraid to use a cart! And make sure you clean the handles of the cart with an antibacterial cleaner before you use it. If you don't already have a portable oxygen concentrator backpack, you might find it useful for carrying your oxygen device along with your other essentials everywhere you go this holiday season, to ensure you do not forget anything.
The Inogen One G4 backpack has also been reviewed as one of the easiest ways to transport your oxygen with you wherever you go, and it is also user friendly, so if you need to adjust your oxygen flow or mess with the settings, the POC is conveniently located so you can get to it without rummaging through your bag! There are also custom backpacks for the One G3 and One G5.
If you haven't already read our LPT Medical blogs about avoiding COPD exacerbations, cold weather and COPD are not the perfect combination, so dressing warm for both the expected outdoor temperatures and the indoor ones is essential for maintaining your health over the holidays.
Here is a tip if you use supplemental oxygen keep your oxygen tubing under a layer of clothing so that the air you breathe will be warmer. Also, consider wearing a scarf or a CT face mask to make breathing colder air easier while you are outside!
A CT mask is the perfect holiday gift for a loved one with COPD it converts the cold dry air into moist warm air, and help respiratory patients breathe in cold air, just take note these masks do not protect against COVID-19
Have all of the tools you need for everyday activities, including medications, daily inhalers and fast-acting inhalers for emergencies. If you use supplemental oxygen, make sure that you have an adequate oxygen supply by either ensuring that you have enough oxygen left in your tanks or an extra portable oxygen concentrator battery to keep your POC charged all day and night.
This holiday season is not the same as many others, where gatherings and events could go on for a long period of time, and someone with COPD might have to step out for the night due to feeling overwhelmed and tired. This is normally when we would recommend trusting this instinct and leaving when you know you have had enough rather than over-extending yourself, and weakening your immune system to the point where you are more susceptible to illness.
But this season, you might be feeling lonely, anxious, or even frightened, and it is important to recognize these emotions as valid, and understand that millions and millions of people are feeling similarly. Click here for a guide about encouraging mental health for people with COPD.
This is why it is so important for mental health to stay connected with your family and loved ones during this holiday season even if you cannot be together in person.
These suggestions for staying safe and sane during the holidays may seem like common sense, but oftentimes a reminder to trust your instincts, eat healthy, stay warm are positive health checkups we do not do enough!
Also, we wrote this article mainly as a reminder, that even if you do struggle with breathing problems, due to a chronic illness or other ailment, that does not mean that you should not experience the joy that comes with sharing the holidays with those we love.
If you are struggling with staying connected, subscribe to our daily newsletter to be updated every time we post a new blog, Or you can join our facebook group, by searching LPT Medical COPD & Respiratory support group on the Facebook App. Our emails and our Facebook group connect you with the best resources and information for anyone that suffers from a respiratory disease, or chronic illness like COPD. Our readers utilize this information to make valuable life changing decisions.
We like to write about changing your habits, your medical oxygen supply needs, tips and tricks to get through just about any obstacle life throws at you. So if you need the gift of connection, please comment below this article with any inquiries, questions, or happy holiday wishes. From LPT Medical’s family to you and yours, we are wishing you a safe and joyful holiday season.