As Spring Break time of the year is coming to an end we are reminded that summer is fast approaching. Summer is generally considered a time to let loose, have fun, and relax. It can be difficult for anyone to stay focused on their health goals during the long days of summer due to vacations, holidays, and festivals. Below are a few tips to help PAH patients stay healthy this summer.
Sun safety is important for everyone. Wearing wide brimmed hats and sunscreen should be part of everyone’s summer regimen. It is extra important for pulmonary arterial hypertension patients to be vigilant of protecting their skin from the sun as many PH medications lead to photosensitivity. This puts PAH patients at greater risk for nasty sunburns and skin damage. Be sure to wear a large wide brimmed hat and apply sunscreen daily. You can also find lightweight long sleeve shirts and pants made of breathable material that are cooling and add an extra layer of protection against those UV rays.
As the temperature goes up so does our thirst for all things liquid. Don’t forget about your fluid restriction. Many PAH centers recommend less than 2 liters of fluid per day. This includes all things liquid at room temperature including some of our summer favorites such as ice cream, popsicles, snow cones, and smoothies. If you are planning on being active outside during the summer months have a chat with your PAH specialist to find out how much fluid they would recommend per day.
Not only do we want to drink more water during the summer but we want to play in the water too. Oral pulmonary hypertension medications will not interfere with swimming but the continuously infused medications aren’t meant for water. If you have a vacation planned and really want to spend some time in the ocean set an appointment to talk things over with your PH doctor well in advance of your trip. It may be possible to come up with a plan to allow for small windows of time for you to be without a pump. Don’t forget about sun safety when you are out enjoying the water.
4. TRAVEL WITH PAH
Summer time is a popular time for pulmonary hypertension patients to travel. PH patients can travel the world as long as they plan ahead. Work with your PH Center, specialty pharmacy and oxygen provider to plan ahead for your trip.
You will want to make sure that you have a medication regimen in place for long days of flying or driving. This may include changing up your standard diuretic regimen to avoid frequent restroom breaks. It will be important to work with your pharmacy to confirm you will have a large enough supply of medications to last your whole trip.
If you are taking a continuously infused medication make sure to bring your back up supplies and keep all supplies and medications with you at all times. DO NOT PLACE PUMPS OR MEDICATIONS IN CHECKED LUGGAGE. Your PAH provider can provide a letter to pass through security with necessary medical equipment.
Airports and site seeing can require a lot of walking. Consider requesting assistance at the airport or arranging for a small portable wheelchair at your destination. It would be a bummer to waste all of your energy on getting to your destination and be too worn out to enjoy your time while there.
Oxygen is also an essential piece to plan ahead of time. Let your physician know if you are planning a trip to a higher elevation than where you currently live as your oxygen requirements may change. Flying can also be taxing and your physician may advise you to wear oxygen during a flight. Most oxygen supply companies can help arrange for oxygen during your travel and at your final destination. They may have a limited number of portable oxygen concentrators available so book early to make sure your needs will be met.
Keeping the above tips in mind, it is possible for PAH patients to go out and have a great time this Summer!