On PatientsLikeMe, nearly 7,000 members are sharing their experiences with lung cancer. The dog days of summer have arrived, so we’ve rounded up some tips for handling the weather’s impact on breathing troubles and the side effects of chemo, radiation and surgery.
Hot weather tips for people with breathing issues
The American Lung Association reminds those with lung disease that your lungs might be working harder in the summer air. Taking some extra steps may help you breathe easier.
- Hot and humid weather can cause airway inflammation and add to breathing difficulty. Tip: Use air-conditioners (with clean filters) in your home, if possible.
- Air pollution (which worsens in the summer due to increased ozone from smog) can also bother your breathing when you have lung disease. Tip: Keep tabs on the air quality forecast in your region, and avoid high-pollution areas (such as jammed highways), if you can.
- When your body is working harder to breathe, you can easily become dehydrated. Tip: Drink plenty of cold water, even if you don’t feel thirsty.
Sun- and heat-safety for people undergoing cancer treatment
Certain kinds of chemotherapy can make you more sensitive to the sun. Radiation therapy sites and surgical scars also call for TLC in the summer. Keep these tips from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network in mind:
- Ask your doctor if your treatment makes you more sensitive to the sun (sometimes called “photosensitivity”) or heat. In general, you may overheat or get sunburned much more quickly and easily than usual.
- Try to avoid time in the sun when its rays are strongest, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Use a “broad-spectrum” (UVA- and UVB-protection) sunscreen with an SPF of 30+, and apply it often.
- Seek shade (under trees or an umbrella) and dress to protect your skin from the sun – but keep in mind that clothing is no substitute for sunscreen.
- Wear a hat to protect your face and head, especially if you’ve lost your hair due to chemo.
- If you’ve undergone radiation therapy, know the precise spots where you were exposed because these areas will be highly sensitive to sunburn. Ask your doctor about a good sunscreen for your extra-sensitive skin.
- If you’ve had surgery, keep your scars protected from the sun with clothing and sunscreen. Members who’ve had surgery also say their scars are sensitive to cold air-conditioning, so you may need to cover your skin indoors, too.
How does the hot weather affect you? Any tips to add? Join the conversation in the Lung Cancer forum.
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