People Living with Respiratory Conditions Encouraged to ‘Stay Well This Winter’
15 January 2019
Today, the Asthma Society of Ireland and COPD Support Ireland, in partnership with GlaxoSmithKline, launched the Stay Well This Winter… Live Every Breath awareness campaign.
For those living with a respiratory illness, cold and damp weather can severely worsen symptoms, making breathing difficult and outdoor tasks daunting.1 This patient-led awareness campaign follows two people living with respiratory conditions, Cróna Tansey and Nicky Coules, through digital stories, as they share practical advice on how they live well during the prolonged winter season.
The Stay Well This Winter…Live Every Breath campaign aims to support patients living with asthma and COPD to manage their respiratory illness during winter. This is particularly important given the extended nature of the season in Ireland. The message for those living with a respiratory illness is simple – continue to take proactive steps, like those listed below, in the coming months to ensure you are as well and as active as possible.
Cróna and Nicky have shared their own winter wellness tips as part of this campaign. The aim of the videos and winter wellness tips is to inspire and support others with respiratory conditions to make the most of every season by looking after themselves as much as possible:
Get the flu vaccination. The flu is a very serious, highly contagious, disease, especially for those living with a lung condition. Reduce your risk of contracting the flu by getting vaccinated today.2
Reduce your risk of contracting illness. Kindly remind friends and family that even a cold can make your symptoms worse.3 Ask them to wait until they are feeling better before visiting.
Wash your hands regularly. Try to avoid coming into contact with harmful bacteria by washing hands, or using hand sanitiser, regularly.4
Keep the house warm. It’s important to stay warm during the winter months but make sure your home is well ventilated.5 If wind and rain triggers your respiratory condition, keep windows closed on particularly bad days.1
Exercise indoors. Cold and damp air can irritate the airwaves, especially for those living with a respiratory condition such as asthma and COPD.1 Exercising indoors is a great way of improving lung function while also staying warm.6
Check the weather forecast. Try to avoid trips outside during particularly cold, wet, and windy weather, which might make breathing more difficult.
Wrap up well. If you do plan to go outside during cold weather, wrap a scarf around your nose and mouth. This will both heat and humidify the air, making breathing easier.6
Breathe in through your nose. Try to breathe in through your nose, instead of your mouth, this will help to heat the air before it reaches your lungs.1
Carry a reliever inhaler with you. Take your prescribed daily medication and have your reliever inhaler with you at all times in case you need it. 7
Agree a self-management plan with a healthcare professional. Self-management of symptoms is important, but it’s also important to know who to call and what to do if you are experiencing an attack of symptoms. Agree a self- management plan with your healthcare professional if you don’t already have one in place.
“We are now experiencing extremely cold, damp and windy weather from autumn through to spring. So even though spring is technically around the corner, we need to stay vigilant. For those living with a respiratory condition, this extended cold weather can exacerbate their symptoms, put their lives on hold, limiting what they can do. Being prepared for cold weather by knowing how to self-manage symptoms and being really proactive on a day-to-day basis can make a huge difference to the quality of life for those living with illnesses like COPD and asthma.”
“I have had asthma since childhood but it is only in recent years that I have realised how serious and unpredictable asthma can be when it is not under control. For many years, I downplayed my asthma and I wasn't dedicated to taking my medication. Uncontrolled asthma can prevent people from doing the things that they love. I got my asthma under control by working with my doctor, becoming aware of what triggers my asthma and being consistent with my inhaler routine. I always carry my reliever inhaler with me. With my asthma under control, I have the confidence to live my life to the full!"
When I was first diagnosed with COPD I indulged the condition. I stopped taking care of myself, I put on weight, I stopped exercising – I let it win. Last year was a turning point, I joined the Tallaght branch of COPD Support Ireland. We meet every week to exercise in a structured, supportive way, and meet others on the same journey. The thing about COPD is that your body is telling you not to exercise, but you need to press on and push through that, a little bit at a time. You have to help yourself live well, and self-care is critical to that
You can contact the Asthma Society of Ireland’s Adviceline on 1800 44 54 64 and COPD Support Ireland’s Adviceline on 1800 83 21 46 to speak to a specialist respiratory nurse.
1 Weather Changes and Asthma, www.asthma.ie/about-asthma/learn-about-asthma/asthma-triggers/weather-changes-and-asthma (last accessed January 8 2019)
2 What is flu?, Flu Vaccination, www.hse.ie/eng/health/immunisation/pubinfo/flu-vaccination/about-the-flu/ (last accessed January 8 2019)
3 Know your COPD, Living with COPD, http://copd.ie/living-with-copd/know-your-copd/ (last accessed January 8 2019)
4 Hand hygiene, Health Care Associated Infections
https://www.hse.ie/eng/about/who/healthwellbeing/our-priority-programmes/hcai/hand-hygiene-in-irish-healthcare-settings/ (last accessed January 8 2019)
5 Asthma in the Home, www.asthma.ie/about-asthma/living-well-with-asthma/lifestyle/asthma-home (last accessed January 10 2019)
6 “12 Days of Asthma” will help you avoid your asthma triggers this Christmas -The Asthma Society, https://www.asthma.ie/news/%E2%80%9C12-days-asthma%E2%80%9D-will-help-you-avoid-your-asthma-triggers-christmas-asthma-society (last accessed January 8 2019)
7 Cold Weather Top Tips, https://www.asthma.ie/news/cold-weather-top-tips (last accessed January 8 2019)