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Does Humidity Affect COPD?

20 May 2015
| Under COPD, Lung Disease | Posted by | 7 Comments
COPD and Humidity Lung Institute

Most people assume that higher humidity levels are harder on people who suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). While this is generally true, humidity levels actually affect COPD sufferers in different ways.

According to Dr. Phillip Factor, Chief of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City, “Many patients with COPD have a component of asthma and some of those patients prefer warm, dry climates while others prefer more humid environments.” While this is true, generally about 40 percent humidity level is ideal for those suffering from COPD.

More Humidity Leads to More Mold

One major thing to consider, however, is that mold is more likely to grow in areas with high humidity levels. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) urges people to act quickly when a water leak occurs in their home. If a water leak is cleaned up within 24 to 48 hours after a leak happens, mold will most likely not grow.

How to Reduce Humidity

The EPA also offers some suggestions as to how to reduce humidity:

  • Use a hygrometer (humidity measuring instrument) to keep an eye on humidity levels in your home. Ideally humidity levels will stay between 30 to 60 percent.
  • Vent appliances that produce moisture, like clothes dryers, stoves and kerosene heaters whenever possible.
  • Only use air conditioners and de-humidifiers as needed – try not to keep them constantly running.
  • Always run the bathroom fan or open a window after showering.
  • Use the stove fan when cooking or running the dishwasher.

More Humidity Means More Smog

Often times COPD sufferers’ symptoms will worsen on days with higher levels of heat and humidity, however, as reported by an article from Advance Healthcare Network, days with high heat and humidity are often associated with high levels of smog. Smog levels certainly affect COPD symptoms, so this is something to consider when thinking about how humidity levels affect someone with COPD. Additionally, humidity in the air increases the moisture and reduces the oxygen, making it more difficult for anyone to breathe, particularly those with COPD.

More Humidity Means More Allergens

Furthermore, hot, humid days also come hand-in-hand with allergy season. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America reports that one in five people suffer from asthma and allergies, including those with COPD. More allergens in the air make it much more difficult for those with COPD to breathe.

While humidity in the air can make it more difficult for those with COPD to breathe, humidity alone isn’t necessarily the reason for difficult breathing. Humidity comes with things like increased smog and allergen levels, which contribute to worsening COPD symptoms. The easiest way to combat these threats is to keep track of humidity levels and stay inside on days when levels are significantly high.

If you or a loved one suffers from a lung disease, the Lung Institute may be able to help. Contact a patient coordinator today at (800) 729-3065 to find out if you qualify for stem cell therapy.

7 Comments

  1. PB

    6 months ago

    Hello Keith,

    Thanks for your question. While humid air does not decrease the amount of oxygen in the air, some people with lung disease experience trouble breathing when the air is more humid. To read more about humidity and breathing, click here. We recommend discussing this with your doctor to see what he or she recommends. Because your doctor knows you and your health well, he or she will be able to guide you best. We wish you the best.

    Kind Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  2. Keith Taflinger

    6 months ago

    If I were to use oxygen outside on humid days, would that reduce the amount of humidity to my lungs?

  3. PB

    6 months ago

    Hello K Philip,

    Thanks for your question. Unfortunately, we aren’t very familiar with electric storage heaters. However, we did some research and found this article about making your home a better place to live with COPD, which we hope you find helpful. We also recommend discussing this question and any other questions about devices to help your lung disease with your doctor before purchasing or using them. We wish you the best.

    Kind Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  4. K PHILIP

    6 months ago

    Will electric storage heaters help or worsen my condition?

  5. Sara

    1 year ago

    This was helpful. My husband has copd caused from being on a ventilator for 3 months. My daughter has asthma. They is a issue of windows open or closed and the air on.

  6. Pingback: Lung Institute | Staying Cool This Summer with COPD

  7. Pingback: Lung Institute | Preparing for Summer with COPD

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