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COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)

COPD and high humidity

06/17/2009

Question:

I quit smoking over 18 years ago, and yet was diagnosed with emphysema 3 years ago. Am considering moving to an area that has high humidity. Will I encounter additional difficulty breathing there? Is one climate more favorable over another? Thank you

Answer:

Thank you for visiting NetWellness and for your question. Your description of smoking cessation 18 years ago and a diagnosis of emphysema 3 years ago is not uncommon. In some people, lung damage continues even after smoke exposure stops. It was important to quit smoking because these changes would have happened more rapidly.

There is no known ideal climate for people with COPD. Both very humid air and very dry air can affect breathing. There is no way to predict how a person will do in another environment. If you have spent time there, and your COPD was controlled, that may be a good indication. When the humidity is very high, it may be advisable to stay indoors in air conditioning if you have more symptoms. If you have more difficulties in your new environment, a lung specialist may help optimize your medication regimen.

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Response by:

Michael E Ezzie, MD Michael E Ezzie, MD
Clinical Assistant Professor of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University