Learning My Limitations and Planning Ahead Makes Summer Enjoyable
Something about sunshine boosts my mood. Do you find that to be true, too?
For me, warmer months bring to mind fun memories of childhood traditions. When I was growing up, my family had a camp on the water. Family picnics, and beach and boat outings are some of my best lifelong memories.
I’ve always felt a deep calmness when spending time on or near the water. That’s why taking precautions in the heat is essential — it allows me to enjoy summer activities and the outdoors with family and friends. Plus, I get the added benefit of vitamin D.
With pulmonary hypertension (PH), summer takes on a whole new meaning. If you or a loved one has PH, you’ll know that heat can do a number on our bodies.
Like many others, I struggle with an increase in dyspnea, or shortness of breath, as the days become warmer. As temperatures increase, those of us with PH must be mindful of any potential complications related to the heat.
If you also enjoy the sunshine but worry about the effects of heat, remember that we can enjoy sunny days by taking a few extra precautions.
Knowing what to look for and preparing in advance can help make the summer heat enjoyable. So, before you opt out of those summer outings, think ahead with these tips in mind.
Slow and steady wins the race
Adjust slowly. If you plan to be outdoors for a while, it’s a good idea to gradually adjust your body by exposing it to shorter durations leading up to the event.
Plan outings earlier in the day or later in the evening, not in the middle of the day when temperatures are hotter. For me, this means not planning outdoor events between noon and 3 p.m. Sunrise or sunset picnic, anyone?
Make sure to stay hydrated. Ensuring adequate hydration is often tricky for those of us with PH. I tend to struggle with this more as the temperatures climb, because my thirst and swelling increase. Dehydration can happen rapidly, so knowing the signs is important.
Summer treats like snow cones, cucumbers, and watermelon need to be accounted for in my daily fluid intake. These treats make it challenging to stay hydrated without causing overhydration or fluid overload.
Like the diuretics we take to help with fluid overload, many medications increase our sensitivity to sunlight. Applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen, and reapplying it after swimming, is essential. Find more sunscreen tips here.
Mini naps, anyone?
Take breaks. Taking indoor breaks between outdoor activities is helpful. This is probably one of the tips I use most. If you are planning a beach day, having an indoor space with air conditioning where you can take breaks is essential. Mini naps are a plus, too. Have you ever noticed how fast heat drains you?
Know the warning signs that your body is overheated before heat exhaustion appears. Some of these symptoms are similar to what many of us with PH experience already, so it may be challenging to differentiate.
For me, an increase in thirst and in my heart rate, along with dizziness, sweating, and swelling in my lower extremities, are important signals. If they happen, I must go indoors where there is air conditioning and place a cool cloth on my neck and forehead.
Summer can be enjoyable for us, too
Keeping these few tips in mind will help you enjoy the summer months despite your PH. Listening to your body and knowing when to take breaks is crucial. Let’s learn our limitations and plan accordingly. Remember, each day may not be the same.
What are some summer survival tips that you find helpful? Please share in the comments below.
Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.