It’s the hazy, hot, and humid days of summer in the northern hemisphere. Chronic illness/pain definitely makes the summer heat more of a challenge. Heat and humidity were never much of an issue for me until I developed asthma, chronic bronchitis, and fibromyalgia. The recent heat wave has been playing havoc with my health. I’ve been doing a lot of research on coping well with the heat and humidity and I want to share it with you.
Yesterday, I ventured out to a local Better Breathers Club meeting. They showed a You Tube video comparing the Relative Humidity measure with the Dewpoint measure given in the weather report. I learned that “Dewpoint is (a) much more accurate measure of how humid it feels.” The higher the temperature is, the more water vapor can be held in the air. So a 50 degree F day with a 50% humidity level feels much more comfortable than and 80 degree F day with the same amount of humidity.
This had puzzled me, because I’d see that the humidity was 55% and think it should be a breathe-easy day and then I’d poke my head outside and go “No, it’s too humid.” This scale shows how comfortable the air is based on the dewpoint. Where I’m at, the current dewpoint is 70 degrees which according to the chart is very humid. And it feels very humid!
<55 degrees F Dry
55-60 degrees F Comfortable
60-64 degrees F Rather humid
65-69 degrees F Humid
70-75 degrees F Very Humid
75 degrees F Oppressive
You can use the above scale to help you plan your activities. All you need to know is the dewpoint number where you are.
The Effects Of Hot, Humid Air
You may be thinking this information doesn’t affect your health. Did you know that hot, humid air can cause an asthma attack and worsen chronic lung disease? Breathing in hot, humid air can irritate airways and cause bronchospasms. Bronchospasms make our airways smaller so we have to work harder to breath.
Also, our bodies are always trying to keep our body temperature stable. Our bodies have to work harder to get rid of the extra heat when it’s hot and humid. This increases our need for oxygen; making us feel short of breath. Add to that increase in oxygen need, blood flow is shifted to our skin and extremities in order to keep our brains and organs cool. Less blood flow to our brains causes that sluggish, I-don’t-want-to-move feeling.
If we’re already prone to fatigue, extreme heat and humidity just makes it worse. Hence, the feeling of it’s-too-hot-to-think. Even with the air conditioner on, I’m having trouble writing this post.
That leads to the next issue I have with the heat. The air conditioner takes out the humidity and helps me breathe easier, but I’m constantly adjusting it, because the blowing, cold air makes me ache all over due to fibromyalgia and arthritis. When I turn it to “econ” mode it doesn’t run continuously, but then I smell a moldy smell when it comes on. Hello allergies!
Tips To Beat The Heat
- Stay Hydrated- drink enough water to keep your urine a pale yellow color. If your doctor has you on a fluid restriction, follow his instructions for hot, humid days. Be purposeful with this, because you’re losing a lot of water through sweating and can become dehydrated very easily.
- If you need to go out to do errands, plan them for early morning or evening when the sun is less sweltering. If these times are not good for you, order online or enlist family/friends to help.
- Hang out in air conditioned places. If you don’t have an air conditioner, placing a bowl of ice in front of a moving fan will help cool the air. To decrease pain due to cold air adjust the air conditioner temp as high as is comfortable, and sit where it’s not blowing on you, or use a sweater.
- If you are able to exercise, do it in air conditioned places or early in the morning if exercising outside.
- Check the weather forecast and air quality before outside activities. You may need to make adjustments.
- If you have asthma, be careful at the pool. Chlorine can aggravate asthma and cause an attack.
- Use sunscreen when outside and stay in the shade as much as possible. Sunburn lessens the ability of your skin to release excess heat.
- If your home’s basement feels damp, use a dehumidifier to keep it drier. Excess moisture encourages mold and dust mite growth. These things cause allergies and breathing problems.
- If you live alone, find someone who can call daily to check on you. You can do the same for someone else who’s alone.
Summer Heat Resources
These articles provided the information for this post. They also provide more in-depth information.
I discovered a great cooling product called a ChillPal Cooling Towel. You wet it with cold water and as the water evaporates, it feels cool against your skin. The towel is 40″ long by 12″ inches wide and is very light weight. I like to drape mine around my neck. This is a great gadget to help you beat the summer heat.
Another cooling gadget that may help is those personal fans with a water bottle on it. Not only can you use the fan, but you can spritz your skin with water to help you cool down. I recommend only using the water spritzer if you are outside or in a room that tolerates getting wet. I bought one online for a trip to Virginia last June, but the weather was so temperate, that I never needed to use it. This gadget would be great for any outdoor activity where the heat is getting you down.
Finally, stay cool and hydrated my friends! If you’ve found a summer heat tip you’d like to share, please let me know below In the comments.
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Till next time, Kathy