- Cigarette smoke irritates the lining of the airways and
contains nicotine, tar, and many other substances that produce
irritation. This irritation causes more mucus and more damage to lung
parenchyma. Avoid second-hand smoke, as well.
- Aggravation or excitement may contribute to
rapid, shallow breathing and even bronchospasm. All of this leads to
worsening shortness of breath. It’s easier to control your emotions and
cope with your problems if you get enough sleep and rest and avoid
- The more excess body weight you have, the more
energy (oxygen) is required for you to do things. Excess weight puts
pressure on the diaphragm and makes it harder for you to expand your
lungs. Overeating at one sitting will contribute to shortness of breath
too, decreasing even more the ability of the lungs to get a full breath.
- Avoid extremes of heat and cold. We
suggest putting a scarf or handkerchief over your mouth and nose to warm
up cold air when you have to go outside. High humidity makes breathing
more difficult, and lack of humidity (dry air) can irritate the airways
in your lungs. Use a humidifier or an air conditioner inside your home
to keep the air at proper humidity. Be sure to change the standing water
in humidifiers and the filters in air conditioners as recommended by
- Oxygen in the air you breathe is less at high
altitudes. This, of course, can make you more short of breath. Speak to
your physician before you fly, or travel to a high altitude area.
- Chemicals, dust, and such that you breathe in,
can irritate the airways. Listen to the news to find daily pollen
counts, or check the newspapers to see what the air quality is each day.
Go to the Internet and visit Weather.com
for Atlanta’s latest pollen count. Stay inside if you can, when air
quality is poor. You can wear a handkerchief, scarf, or disposable
surgical mask over the mouth and nose to give you some protection when
you vacuum, dust, do yard work, must be exposed to fumes, or pump your
Colds and the flu
– Do not be around people who have a cold or
the flu. Avoid crowds, during cold and flu season. You can protect
yourself by wearing a disposable surgical mask, washing hands frequently
and avoid touching your face with your fingers. To maintain optimal
resistance, stay as healthy as you can by exercising, eating a healthy
diet, and getting enough rest. Be sure to take the flu and pneumonia
vaccines as recommended by your physician.