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Summertime with CF

As temperatures soar, Public Affairs Manager Lynsey Beswick presents her guide to keeping cool with cystic fibrosis.

So the British summer has finally arrived. While I can confirm that I have been frantically routing to the back of my wardrobe to find my shortest shorts I have also been contemplating what it will mean for me and my cystic fibrosis. I have been carefully considering my own CF-proof plan.  

Top tips for staying cool in the sun

1. Be prepared!

Not only am I armed with inhalers (in every handbag I own) I also plan to ensure that I am extra careful about remembering to take my doses along with any other nebulisers or breathing medication.

2. Take it with more than a pinch of salt.

We all know that the sun causes sweat – and people with cystic fibrosis love to sweat – so I have also been frantically digging out the salt tablets which are usually only reserved for holidays abroad; to avoid any heat-induced cramps which can be common for people with cystic fibrosis.

3. Keep allergies at bay.

I have also started to take an antihistamine to act as an anti-inflammatory and to help ensure that any allergies are kept at bay, as this can also play havoc with my chest and make me feel worse.

4. Factor in more than sun cream.

As well as ensuring I have the obvious – lots of fresh water and a good dollop of sun cream – there are some other things that might not be quite so obvious. For example certain antibiotics that I take for my cystic fibrosis can cause photosensitivity – this could mean the difference between a glorious tan and a slightly less glamorous shade of beetroot.

5. Go slow!

I will certainly be taking things at a slower pace and avoid over exerting myself – a great excuse to get out of going for my evening run – that will have to wait until the weather is cooler I’m afraid!

6. Keep cool and don’t carry on.

Instead I will be remaining inside during the hottest hours of the day with my feet up (hopefully), windows open and a fan flowing to keep me as cool and as comfortable as possible. I will also keep all medications in the shade too – particularly digestive enzymes as the heat can apparently damage them and make them ineffective.

7. Get fed up!

I also need to monitor my food intake – hot weather often means I lose my appetite so making sure I have snacks to hand or supplement drinks will help to ensure I’m still getting essential calories and that I keep my energy levels up.

8. If in doubt, ask your CF team

Of course at the first sign of feeling unwell or breathing difficulty I do have my specialist CF team on speed dial – but I am hoping that by taking sufficient precautions I can avoid any drama and enjoy this great weather while it lasts!

9. It’s not all about CF!

Don’t forget to carefully monitor other CF-related complications like asthma and CF-related diabetes, for example. The heat can affect my blood sugars so I need to monitor them regularly and keep hydrated. Also I will keep insulin out of direct sunlight and some handy snacks available to help keep my levels stable.

10. And finally…

Get those shorts on and enjoy this glorious weather whilst it lasts! 

As Lynsey suggests, if you do feel unwell it is important to contact your specialist CF team immediately.

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