Before You Jump Into Summer With Cystic Fibrosis

If you're itching to get out and indulge in some summer fun in the sun, don’t let cystic fibrosis stop you! With a little advance preparation, there’s no reason why you can’t participate in many of the summer activities you enjoy. Follow these guidelines to ensure you stay safe as you take the plunge into a fun-filled summer.

Consult Your Doctor

Exercise is an important part of cystic fibrosis management and will undoubtedly be included in your treatment plan.

However, you should not participate in any activities that you haven't discussed with your doctor first. Your cystic fibrosis specialists are familiar with the unique details of your physical condition and are best prepared to recommend activities that are right for you. Be sure to let them in on your summer plans.

Stay Hydrated

High temperatures can cause dehydration very quickly, especially when combined with physical activity. For people with cystic fibrosis, dehydration is especially dangerous because the water loss increases the thickness of mucous.

Avoid dehydration by drinking plenty of fluids before you become thirsty. A good rule of thumb is to drink 6-12 ounces of water or other non-caffeinated beverage for every 30 minutes spent exercising or in the sun.

Replace Salt and Calories

Heat and physical activity will cause you to burn extra calories and lose salt through sweat. Check with your CF nutritionist, but you will probably need to eat foods to replace what you lose.

If your nutritionist agrees, be sure to pack plenty of salty snacks such as:

  • Sports drinks
  • Nuts
  • Pretzels
  • Potato chips
  • Trail mix

Keep it Cool

Before you head out this summer, check with your pharmacist to get storage instructions for your medications. Some common cystic fibrosis medications must be refrigerated, others should be stored at room temperature.

Never leave your medications in the car, and keep them away from direct sunlight.

Avoid Allergens and Pollutants

Make sure that you know what's in the air you will be breathing. Avoid areas known to have high levels of smog or pollution because these things contain chemical irritants that can trigger breathing problems. The Environmental Protection Agency maintains a searchable database of air quality information that's a great tool to check out the areas you plan to visit.

It's also a good idea to be aware of any environmental allergies that you may have and avoid areas that are likely to contain them. If you can't avoid allergens, you may want to ask your doctor if an antihistamine is appropriate for you.

Keep Medicine and Supplies at Hand

If you are traveling by air, be sure to keep your medicines and necessary supplies in your carry-on bag. Airlines do lose luggage sometimes, and lost bags can take days or weeks to recover. Never pack anything in your check-in baggage that you can't live without for that period of time.

Some things you will want to keep with you:

  • Medicines
  • Infant formula
  • Nutrition supplements
  • Your doctor's contact information
  • Medical equipment

Stick to Your Routine

It's easy to get sidetracked when you're away from home, but it is important to stay as close to your usual daily routine as possible.

Continue to take your medications at prescribed times, and plan your activities around respiratory treatments. Stopping for chest physical therapy may be inconvenient, but skipping it could lead to complications that would end your trip completely.


Summer Tips for CF Care. Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.