Humidity and COPD
The high humidity in our home state make life hard for people who have symptoms of lung problem. My mom never thought of moving away, but I know that the summer months were almost unbearable at times. We all tried to help her cope by taking certain steps. Because we just grew up with heavy air, we had to learn about humidity and COPD.
What is humidity?
The air around us contains a certain amount of moisture. For example, when it is pouring down rain, it means there is 100% humidity, and water is falling from the sky. That also reduces the oxygen in the air, making it hard to get a deep breath. Some areas have a higher humidity because they are close to water. If you live near a lake, or the ocean, you know that already. Our part of the United States has a lot of lakes, trees, and high temperatures. Those three combined creates a higher humidity, depending on the season.
Many regions have desert like conditions with low humidity. People who live there may be more active, or even take less medication because of the drier air. You can look at the dew point, or the relative humidity to gauge moisture, but either way, heavy air means trouble for those with lung health issues.
Humidity throughout the seasons
Winter usually brings cold weather and a lower humidity. In the spring, the air starts to heat up. By the time summer rolls around, as the temperature gets hotter, the humidity rises. That’s because warmer air holds more moisture, making the humidity high, and the oxygen low.
Helpful hints for those humid days
Check the weather
Less than 40% is the general rule of thumb and the best for those who combat difficulty with breathing. If you have plans to go outside, try to do them at the time of day when the air is least filled with moisture. Most weather channels or apps can give you that number quickly.
Mom learned to stay indoors, especially during the hours when the dew point was heavy in the hot summer days. She knew that getting out in the heat of the day was not good news. That’s true even for those of us who don’t have COPD. She planned her activities according to the weather and humidity. That might mean she made doctor appointments and ran errands before noon. Then she was settled inside in her chair in a shady room when the suns rays were the hottest. The muggy air from high humidity makes everyone want to come inside, lay down, and take a nap.
She made sure that her shoulder bag with her meds were filled and organized before she headed out. Oxygen refills were ready too. I recently saw a video of her at an outdoor picnic in August. She was parked in a chair under a shade tree visiting with friends.
By watching the weather and moisture in the air, mom was able to plan a pretty active life. She knew to stay inside during the heat of the day when oxygen was not as available. No matter what, the organized medicines and spare oxygen gave her the freedom to design a life around high humidity and COPD.
How has your experience been navigating the healthcare system as someone with COPD?