Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are two lung based diseases that make it extremely difficult for an individual to breathe. Although the primary causes behind the development of emphysema and chronic bronchitis are different, the two have very similar symptoms. Each is considered chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, also known as COPD. Both of the breathing conditions cause a reduction in the airflow that makes it extremely difficult to breathe sometimes. On occasion, the two different breathing diseases can occur at the same time, while other individuals might suffer from just one or the other. For individuals dealing with one or both of these breathing conditions, it is very important to know what trigger points bring out the symptoms of both emphysema and chronic bronchitis and also if cold weather has any sort of lasting effect on someone with these breathing diseases.
Typical Causes of Emphysema and Chronic Bronchitis
For starters, most individuals who suffer from emphysema or chronic bronchitis (or both) are long time smokers and the diseases have come about due to the toxins ingested during extended smoking. However, those who have worked inside of coal mines are also individuals who typically suffer from such breathing problems. These two breathing diseases are rather under diagnosed, as most individuals who smoke have some sort of breathing condition that is, at least, a variation of these breathing conditions.
What Emphysema and Chronic Bronchitis Does to the Lungs
For individuals who suffer from these breathing diseases, the airway that carries the air into the lungs becomes inflamed due to irritations inside of the lungs, throat and airway into the lungs. These irritants occur when usually in conjunction with smoking, although there are other conditions that cause the irritants and inflammation. When the area becomes inflamed, mucus is formed in order to help reduce the inflammation. As more mucus is produced to soothe the inflamed area (this is the body’s own natural way to deal with the problem), it closes off the airway and makes it difficult to breathe. Eventually, the airway to the lungs becomes thickened and causes the rather irritating and sometimes painful cough that goes along with emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
Effects of Cold Weather
Many individuals who suffer from emphysema and chronic bronchitis report an increase in symptoms during colder months of the year. Cold weather, however, is not the only culprit. The combination of both cold air and dry air ultimately causes the problem and increase in symptoms. This is because the cold, dry air causes the airway to narrow and construct even further. When the airway becomes further constructed it does force individuals with chronic bronchitis and emphysema to cough more and find it more difficult to breathe. Although, the condition is only temporary. There are no lasting effects of cold weather on these breathing diseases. Due to this, while many individuals do suffer more so throughout the colder, winter months, it is not going to have a permanent, lingering effect. However, with an increased difficulty of breathing during this time of the year, there are a few methods an individual can use to improve their breathing in colder weather.
Improve Breathing During the Cold
For starters, an individual is able to wear a cold air face mask while outside. These face masks can be purchased at just about any drugstore and it will help warm the air before it enters the mouth. This way, the warmer air doesn’t have the same lingering effect on individuals. Having a scarf works, to an extent, but a cold air mask is the best for these sorts of conditions. Additionally, it is better to breath through the nose instead of the mouth. The warmer air inside of the sinus cavity makes it easier for the air to warm up before entering your lungs. Taking advantage of a bronchodilator about 30 minutes before entering the cold helps reduce symptoms, as does having a humidifier nearby before leaving. All of this helps improve the moisture inside of the lungs and prep it before going outside.
Some individuals see a significant increase in symptoms of their emphysema and chronic bronchitis during the cold weather months. This is a natural, but it does not have any sort of lasting, negative impact on the person. Symptoms are often most severe for individuals just moving from a warm, humid climate to a colder, dry air climate. In time, the person should become acquainted with the new, colder air, but it is still important to take advantage of the different methods for improving their ability to breathe in cold air, in order to reduce the impact the cooler temperatures have on their ability to breathe.