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Will the festive season make my lung condition worse?
For most people, the festive season is a time to celebrate with loved ones, but there are lots of things that could impact your lung condition at this time of year.
We can help you stay well. Our advice has lots of simple tips to help you manage your lung condition so that you can focus on enjoying yourself.
You’re more likely to catch respiratory infections in the winter. You might socialise more over the festive season too, which can increase your risk of catching respiratory infections even more.
Respiratory infections you might catch over the winter months include:
- the common cold
- bronchiolitis and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
- chest infections, including pneumonia.
Catching infections like this can worsen your lung condition symptoms. In a recent survey, almost 3 in 4 people with a lung condition told us that colds and flu make their symptoms worse.
You can lower your risk of getting ill by doing simple things like washing your hands regularly and airing out your home where possible. Find out more ways to protect yourself against colds and flu.
Get your winter vaccines
Getting your winter vaccines can help to protect you and the people around you from getting seriously ill. Most people with a lung condition can get winter vaccines for free:
Cold weather can worsen your lung condition symptoms. It can also make you more vulnerable to illnesses. This is why it’s important to stay warm over the festive season.
Indoor air pollution
Indoor air pollution is things like dust, dirt, or gases in the air inside buildings that can be harmful to breathe in.
Over the festive season, you might be exposed to some common forms of indoor air pollution, like wood burning stoves, cleaning products, central heating and scented candles. These can all make your lung condition symptoms worse.
We have more information about indoor air pollution, including advice about lowering your risk.
You might be around fireworks while you’re celebrating. The smoke and chemicals from fireworks could cause an asthma attack or flare-up of your lung condition. We have more advice about staying well around fireworks.
Smoking and vaping
The festive season can be stressful and exciting. You might also attend more social gatherings and parties at this time of year. For some people, this means that they smoke more.
Smoking damages every part of your body, including your lungs. This includes passive smoking. If you’re seeing friends or family who smoke or vape, ask them not to smoke around you.
If you smoke, remember that stopping smoking is one of the best things you can do for your lung condition. Stay motivated by using the NHS savings calculator to work out how much money you spend on cigarettes. If you stop smoking, you could put this money towards a treat in the new year.
The festive season is a cause for celebration, but it can also be a busy and stressful time of year. Stress and anxiety can make your lung condition symptoms worse, so taking time to look after yourself and do things you enjoy is important.
There is help available. We have a lot of information about caring for your mental health and well-being when you have a lung condition.
Take time to relax and unwind over the festive season, but remember to keep active. Physical activity could help you manage your lung condition and it can become much easier if you make it a habit.
Find out more about staying motivated.
If your lung condition is affected by dust, pollen or mould, you might need to think about the type of Christmas tree you get this year.
Real Christmas trees
Not everyone with a lung condition has a problem with real Christmas trees, but they do affect some people.
Real Christmas trees can bring mould spores and pollen into the house. In a warm home, spores can multiply. If you’re sensitive to mould and pollen, you may notice symptoms similar to hay fever when you get a real tree. Your lung symptoms could get worse too.
If you’re thinking of buying a real tree:
- Shake any debris off your tree and rinse it before bringing it into your house. This will wash off any mould or pollen. Make sure it’s dry before decorating with electric lights.
- Keep your tree in the coolest part of your house. This means mould spores are less likely to multiply.
- Put the tree outside straight away if you notice your lung condition symptoms getting worse.
- Try out an artificial Christmas tree if a real tree is making your symptoms worse.
Artificial Christmas trees
If your lung condition is affected by dust, you may need to be careful when getting your artificial tree out of storage. If your tree has got dusty, try vacuuming it or wiping it down with a damp cloth.
You could use airtight plastic bags or boxes when you pack the tree and decorations away again, so they’re less likely to get dusty through the year.
There are a few things you can do to make sure that your lung condition is under control before the festive season begins.
Get prepared by:
- Checking your medicines are in date and you’ve got enough to last the whole festive period.
- Checking your pharmacy’s opening times. Find your nearest pharmacy in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales.
- Checking your GP surgery’s opening times. If you need to see your GP, asthma nurse or specialist when they’re closed, you can phone NHS 111 or use 111 online.
- Collecting any medicines you need before your GP surgery or local pharmacy close.
- Updating your self-management plan and keeping it with you over the festive season. Self-management plans keep all the information you need to know about your lung condition in one place. We have an asthma action plan, a MART action plan, a COPD self-management plan and a pulmonary fibrosis self-management plan available.