Contributed by Jim Nelson, consultant to CAIRE Inc. ~
Don’t get me wrong … I love nature! I like hiking and biking, wandering the mountains of Colorado or the Sonoran Desert around Tucson. Thing is, I remember what it was like before my transplant, back when I was wandering a little more slowly and carrying my oxygen with me. It seemed that everything that happened, every weather event affected the air that I was struggling to use. It seems that every state has something that will get you. They all have something a little bit different, but they all have something.
Humidity was always a problem. When my failing lungs drove us from western Colorado to the sand and Saguaros of southern Arizona, I was thankful for the famous dry climate. Until, that is, July and the arrival of the yearly monsoon season. It promptly changed from hot, like 105 degrees hot, to hot and humid! If you have not experienced 105 degrees with 90-some percentage humidity, you have simply not lived! Bad lungs are enough of a problem, but combine them with hot, damp air, and you know what a true struggle can be …
It seems that the entire western United States has been on fire this year. For the past several years, actually. The smoke from the forest or grassland fires towers to hundreds of thousands of feet and travels across many states. It fouls the air in Montana and Iowa and Colorado, dimming the scenery and seeking out the lungs of patients suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), sufferers of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF), and anyone with weak lungs. Trouble is, wood smoke is composed of really tiny particles, small enough to reach the microscopic capillaries that lead to the equally microscopic alveoli where the oxygen is exchanged for the carbon dioxide waste gas. The further foreign objects can venture into your lungs, the harder they are to expel. Regardless of the effort, no amount of coughing is going to dislodge all of it.
The news lately has been filled with pictures and stories of the devastation caused by Hurricane Florence. It hit several states, most notably North and South Carolina. It is after the water finally recedes that the danger, in the form of black mold, appears. Mold loves warm, moist environments. The inside of your lungs offers a tremendous Petri dish for the growth of the spores. If you ever suffer a mold infestation in your lungs, you will wish for mere humidity!
Besides smoke and mold and the like, there are other nasties out there in the air that are just waiting for you. Pollen and second- and third-hand smoke and the smog and ozone that populate our cities can all cause irritation, inflammation, damage to the delicate surfaces that line our breathing passages. Weak lungs and the irritations that we have discussed here can exacerbate such stuff as influenza and pneumonia. So, take the time to get your flu and pneumonia shots! While you are at it, you might consider a shingles shot. Age and stress can contribute to a case of itching and pain the likes of which you do not want. In case you are convinced that flu or other shots cause all sorts of dire diseases, I urge you to get over it. If you choose not to get your shots despite the evidence, just please stay away from me and mine.
~ Uncle Jim
Jim Nelson is a double lung transplant recipient and a patient advocate for COPD patients throughout the U.S. and around the world. He and his wife, Mary, are well known patient advocates and brand ambassadors for those organizations who tirelessly endeavor to help those individuals who suffer from a variety of respiratory diseases and the caregivers who support them.
If you have been prescribed oxygen therapy, learn more about CAIRE wearable, portable and stationary oxygen concentrators by visiting www.cairemedical.com or calling 1-877-704-0878 to talk to an oxygen advisor.
When using any oxygen therapy device please consult the applicable product instructions for use for product indications, contraindications, warnings, precautions, and detailed safety information.