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Humidity and Lung Disease

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July 15, 2019 0 2 minutes, 2 seconds read
Prashant Saxena
Associate Director and Head (Pulmonology and Sleep Medicine) & Associate Director (Critical Care)
Critical Care, Pulmonology

Humidity is frequently associated with worsening of respiratory symptoms, like breathlessness, nasal congestion, cough, excess mucus production and wheezing. This is not primarily because; the humidity directly affects the lungs. Rather, humidity makes the air stagnant due to which pollutants and allergens like pollen, dust, mould, dust mites, and smoke get trapped in the airway. Increased humidity may also encourage the growth of mould in the home or workplace. This is one of the common trigger which can further sensitize the lungs, prompting coughing, wheezing and asthma/ bronchitis attacks

Furthermore, humid air is dense as it has high water content. High density leads to increases airway resistance in the body.  Hot and humid air requires the body to work harder to maintain its homeostasis. Hence body demands more oxygen. This can also contribute to feelings of breathlessness.

To protect the lungs from hot and humid weather following tips can be useful:

  • Do not exercise outdoor during the hottest time of the day.
  • Drink plenty of fluid.
  • Increase intake of citrus fruit juices such as oranges, pineapple, cranberry, blueberry etc.
  • Open all the windows of your car once you sit inside it; this will release hot air and harmful gases from the car.
  • Regular servicing of AC and heater of the car is necessary as these devices as it leaves hazardous gases such as carbon monoxide in the air.
  • Avoid being outside on humid days, especially when the air quality is poor.
  • Check local weather forecast to determine suitable conditions to get outdoor.
  • Try to reduce indoor humidity by using an air conditioner or dehumidifier.

High humidity levels can worsen symptoms of lung diseases such as asthma and COPD.

and mold is one of the common COPD trigger.

This Induces shortness of breath and fatigue.

High humidity levels may exacerbate symptoms for a variety of reasons. The body needs to work harder to breathe when humidity levels are high, especially when the air is hot.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), keeping indoor humidity levels below 60 percent can help prevent mold.

Dust mites live in furniture, carpets, and bedding. They thrive at humidity levels of 70 to 80 percent. Their dead bodies and waste can also set off asthma attacks.

Humidity over 60 percent also encourages the growth of mold. You’ll often find mold in damp places like bathroom ceilings and flooded basements. If you’re sensitive to mold, breathing it in can flare up your asthma.

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