Hot weather and your lungs

Hot weather can make asthma and other lung condition symptoms worse. Find out how to stay well in hot weather.

Is hot weather bad for my lungs?

When it’s over 25ºC outside, hot weather can affect your lung health. Staying well in hot weather could mean fewer asthma attacks or flare-ups of your lung condition. It could also mean fewer trips to your GP or to the hospital.

Hot weather does not affect everybody with asthma and other lung conditions, but in a recent survey 1 in 3 people told us that hot weather made their symptoms worse.  There are different reasons for this: 

  • Hot and humid air can affect your breathing and make asthma and other lung condition symptoms like breathlessness and wheezing worse.   
  • Hot and sunny weather increases a type of air polluting gas called ozone. Air pollution is bad for your lungs, especially if you have asthma or another lung condition. 
  • Warmer weather is linked to higher pollen levels. If you also have hay fever, this could make your lung condition symptoms worse too.     

Staying well in hot weather

It’s important to keep managing your asthma well in hot weather:

  • If you have a preventer inhaler or a MART inhaler, use it every day as prescribed, even if you feel well.
  • Always keep your reliever inhaler with you, so you can use it for quick relief when you get symptoms. 
  • Check your inhaler technique. Our short videos show you how to use your inhaler properly to manage your asthma symptoms. 
  • Use an asthma action plan, so that you know exactly what to do if your symptoms start.
  • Read more about the different things that could trigger your asthma in the summer, like pollen, air pollution and thunderstorms

You can keep information about how hot weather affects your lung condition on your self-management plan. Self-management plans include information about what to do and who to contact if your lung condition symptoms get worse. We have a COPD self-management plan and a pulmonary fibrosis self-management plan available for free.  
If you have a lung condition like COPD or bronchiectasis, your healthcare professional might also suggest that you keep some medicines at home for an emergency. These are sometimes called rescue packs. If you’ve been prescribed a rescue pack, make sure you know exactly how to use it.

If you use a reliever inhaler, always keep it with you so that you can use it for quick relief when you get symptoms. You can also check your inhaler technique using our short videos. They show you how to use your inhaler properly to manage your lung condition symptoms.

When it’s hot outside, make sure to drink enough fluids throughout the day. This will stop you from becoming dehydrated. Being dehydrated can make asthma and other lung condition symptoms worse.

Your pee should be clear or pale yellow when you’re hydrated. If it’s darker or smells strong, you need to drink more fluid.

Drinking water, squash and milk can help you stay hydrated. Alcohol and caffeinated drinks can dehydrate you. It’s best to avoid alcohol and caffeine in hot weather or drink a glass of water in between alcoholic drinks.    

Try to eat cold meals in hot weather. Foods like fruit and salads have a high water content, so can help to keep you hydrated.  

Physical activity has a lot of benefits if you have asthma or another lung condition. It’s important to exercise safely in hot weather to avoid heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

You could try gentle activities when it’s hot outside, like yoga, walking or stretches. We have a keep active programme designed specifically for people with lung conditions.

The hottest part of the day is 11am to 3pm, so try to exercise in the mornings and evenings when it’s cooler. You should also try to drink cold drinks while you’re active. 

You might need to store your medicines differently in hot weather. Most medicines should be stored somewhere: 

  • dry
  • cool (under 25°C)
  • out of direct sunlight
  • away from windowsills.

Medicines should only be stored in the fridge if specified. If you’re unsure about how to store your medicines, speak to a pharmacist. 

Some medicines can make you more sensitive to sunlight. This includes: 

  • doxycycline 
  • ciprofloxacin 
  • pirfenidone.

Find out how to manage sensitivity to sunlight on the NHS website.  

Always check the information leaflet that came with your medication or talk to a pharmacist about side effects you could get. Do not stop or change your medicines without speaking to your healthcare professional.

Taking cool showers and baths could help to keep you comfortable in hot weather. Placing a damp cloth, flannel or tea towel on the back of your neck can also help to cool you down.

The hottest part of the day is from 11am to 3pm. Try to avoid the heat by going outside in the mornings and evenings when it’s cooler.

When you’re outside, try to: 

  • take a bottle of water with you to stay hydrated
  • take any medicines you need with you, including your reliever inhaler if you use one 
  • stay in the shade where it’s cooler 
  • avoid main roads and busy streets as these are more polluted 
  • wear lightweight, loose-fitting, light coloured clothes to stay cool
  • wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face, eyes, head, ears, and neck from the sun
  • wear wraparound sunglasses to stop pollen getting into your eyes 
  • apply suncream regularly to avoid sunburn.

If you work outdoors and cannot avoid the heat, try talking with your employer to see if any steps can be taken to help keep you well at work. We have more advice about working with a lung condition, including advice about reasonable adjustments at work.

It’s a good idea to regularly check the weather, air pollution and pollen forecasts in your local area. This will help you to prepare for hot weather and plan outdoor activities.

If you get breathless, try using a handheld fan. Hold it about 15cm (six inches) away from the middle of your face and let the cool air blow towards you. You might need to use the fan for up to 10 minutes before you feel better.

A floor standing fan or desktop fan can also help, and you may sleep better if you have a fan in your bedroom at night.

Remember to keep your fan clean, so that you don’t blow dust into your face.

We have more information about managing breathlessness

Stay in the coolest part of your home as much as you can, especially while you’re sleeping.

Try to keep your home between 18°C and 26°C.  You can do this by: 

  • closing any blinds, curtains and windows that get direct sunlight during the day. It’s best to close these in the morning before heat builds up
  • turning off lights and electrical items that you’re not using, this will make your home cooler
  • opening your windows at night when it is cooler. 

Get support

Call or WhatsApp our Helpline for support with your condition. Get advice on your medicines, symptoms or travelling with a lung condition, or just call us to say hello.

Read more

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Hay fever

Hay fever can affect your asthma or lung condition symptoms. Find out what hay fever is, how it’s linked to air pollution and thunder, and how you can treat it.
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Air pollution

Find out how to reduce the harmful effects of air pollution.
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Thunderstorms and asthma

Find out why thunderstorms can trigger your asthma and what you can do about it.
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