6 Ways Weather Affects Your Breathing

1. The “Goldilocks” of Weather. Weather that is too hot can increase the severity of symptoms in patients with COPD. Likewise, weather that is too cold can make it more difficult to breathe . The perfect temperature for people with COPD is around 70 degrees. Ideally, humidity should be between 35-50% inside your home.

2. Cold, Dry Weather. Temperatures less than 32 degrees have lower humidity, which makes the air feel very dry. Dry air will dry out your mucus membranes, making allergy symptoms worse. When you breathe air that is dry, you don’t have as much mucus in your system, so you can not fight off viruses or bacteria as easily as you can with air that has more than 10% humidity. If you are out on cold days, wear a scarf to cover your mouth and nose to help warm and humidify the air.

3. Humid Weather: The ability for air to hold moisture, or water, increases as the temperature increases. While some humidity is good for our lungs, too much humidity has the opposite effect. When humidity is greater than 50%, you may feel increased shortness of breath or a feeling of “stuffiness”. Increased humidity also creates a breeding ground for fungus and mold.

4. Wind. Believe it or not, even wind can take your breath away. When you walk against the wind, it causes your body to work harder and breathing becomes more difficulty. Wind also picks up dust and pollen, which are triggers for some people. It is best to stay inside on a very windy day, with your windows shut.

5. Thunderstorms. Studies show that thunderstorms are related to asthma attacks and may cause COPD flare-ups. Storms cause pollen and seeds to break open, thus making them very easy to inhale. During a rainstorm, you should try to stay inside.

6. Abrupt Changes in Temperature. Rapid changes in the weather and temperatures can cause rapid drops in barometric pressure. If the barometric pressure drops, there is less oxygen in the air. This is very similar to what you would experience in a high elevation. This can cause you to feel increased shortness of breath.