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Health advice when hot weather takes your breath away

25 July 2018


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While most people enjoy the nice summer months, a heatwave can spell trouble if you are one of the tens of thousands of people in Bedfordshire and Luton with a lung disease such as Asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) (called chronic bronchitis or emphysema), as heat and humidity can make it harder to breathe and may trigger symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing.

This can happen because pollution, pollens and other plant particles in the air cause irritation and inflammation in the airways, making it harder to breathe.

The NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups for Bedfordshire and Luton are advising anyone who has a lung condition to take some simple steps to stay on top of symptoms and prevent their health conditions from becoming more severe.

Dr Nina Pearson, local GP and Clinical Chair of NHS Luton Clinical Commissioning Group said: “In hot weather, we use energy to try and keep cool and this causes our bodies to demand more oxygen. At the same time, exposure to pollens can trigger allergic symptoms in the airways. If you have Asthma or COPD follow these simple steps to keep as well as you can be during hot weather:

  • Keep your home cool by closing curtains or blinds during the peak time of day for sun and use the coolest rooms.
  • If you know pollen triggers your symptoms, keep windows closed and stay indoors.
  • Use antihistamines from your local pharmacy or supermarket to help control allergies
  • Use a fan to help stay cool and provide a gentle breeze.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially cold water, to keep well hydrated.
  • Use your inhalers as prescribed by your health professional. Ensure you have sufficient supplies, including any rescue medicines you have been prescribed for a flare-up - don’t risk running out.
  • If you need help to remember how to use your inhalers contact a pharmacist
  • Refresh your memory about your self-management plan so that you know what to do if your breathing starts to get worse."

Dr Sanhita Chakrabarti, Respiratory Clinical Lead for NHS Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Be aware of what affects you and talk to a pharmacist or your GP practice about allergy medications or inhalers to support your breathing in the summer heat.

“It is really important to take your prescribed medication as advised, as taking it continuously, even if you feel better can prevent a flare-up. Local pharmacies can help with any queries about medication and advise on what to keep in your medicine cabinet at home.  

“It’s also a good idea to plan ahead so you don’t run out of your medication – such as inhalers, and always check that they are not out of date. You can order your own repeat prescriptions online – your GP surgery can help you set this up and it is very easy and convenient.”

More advice about how to stay well in hot weather is available from the NHS www.nhs.uk 

ENDS

Notes to editors

Notes for editor

·         Luton Clinical Commissioning Group is responsible for planning, organising and buying NHS-funded healthcare for the 240,000 people who live in Luton. This includes hospital, community health and mental health services.

·         LCCG is run by GPs, nurses, hospital doctors and other clinicians – the people you see whenever you come into contact with the NHS. 28 GP practices in Luton are members of the CCG. www.lutonccg.nhs.uk

·         Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group is responsible for planning, organising and buying NHS-funded healthcare for the 450,000 people who live in Bedfordshire. This includes hospital, community health and mental health services.

·         BCCG is run by GPs, nurses, hospital doctors and other clinicians – the people you see whenever you come into contact with the NHS. All 48 GP practices in Bedfordshire are members of the CCG which is divided into five areas, which we call localities. These are: Bedford, Chiltern Vale, Leighton Buzzard, Ivel Valley and West Mid Bedfordshire.

·         The British Lung Foundation has advice for anyone with a lung condition such as COPD and it organises local support groups called Breathe Easy. Contact them at https://www.blf.org.uk/support-in-your-area/breathe-easy-bedford-support-group

·         Asthma action plans for adults and children can be downloaded at   www.asthma.org.uk and fill these in with your GP or asthma nurse.  An action plan will help you to monitor and stay on top of your symptoms, know when to seek help for your condition, and advise you what to do in an emergency when your asthma flares up. You should review your plan with your GP or asthma nurse at least once a year

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