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Adjusting to Weather Changes with Asthma

My husband has always told me he is like a human barometer because he can almost always feel it in his knees when the weather is going to change. This phenomenon is due to changes in barometric pressure that can cause aches in the body, most often in the head and joints.

Weather changes and asthma

In some ways, I feel like my lungs are like barometers and can feel when the weather is going to change. I am also very sensitive to swings in temperature and humidity. It doesn’t take much increase in humidity for my lungs to get angry.

Living in the Midwest for the past two years has definitely been an adjustment getting used to the humidity levels in the summer. What I have learned is to always be prepared. The saying I have heard over and over in the past two years is “if you don’t like the weather wait 15 min and it will change” is so true!

Watch for weather changes

Even though the weather can change quickly, keep tabs on the forecast regardless if you are sensitive to weather changes. I have a few apps on my phone that I check daily and sometimes multiple times a day if I am going to be away from home and need to plan accordingly. I have it set up on my phone so I will get alerts when any severe weather is approaching.

I also stay indoors as much as possible when the weather is bad & especially when it’s very hot and humid outside. It doesn’t take long to feel the negative effects which can happen in mere minutes.

Track your peak flow

Peak flow meters are a great tool to help monitor your asthma. If you track your peak flow on a regular basis you may notice that your peak flow number will drop before you even feel asthma symptoms. Refer to your asthma action plan (if you don’t have a peak flow meter or action plan ask your doctor for one at your next visit) and take the necessary steps outlined there to help try and prevent your asthma from flaring further.

Hydration and rest

Staying hydrated is incredibly important regardless of the weather conditions.  However when it is very warm during the summertime be sure to have a water bottle with you when you leave your home and don’t forget to drink water while home too! Making time to rest and get as good of a nights sleep as possible will help as well. The heat and humidity is enough to wear anyone down and zap energy so when possible take a good nap!

Who else is like me and has lungs that don’t do well when the weather changes or is especially hot and humid? What are some tips you have learned to help cope?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Asthma.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • iam2nd
    6 months ago

    As usual, I’m late to the party! I apologize now because I know this is long but I have no one to vent to about my lung issues and this article seemed the perfect segue to a relative issue…

    YES, YES, YES, weather seriously figures in how I plan my day – I too have experienced ‘asthma hell’ when it’s hot and humid, especially when mixed with smog. I am also affected negatively by the opposite condition, COLD (under 30 degrees) and dry – especially if it’s windy and that happens a lot here. As a rule, I do NOT go out when the weather is extreme, or air quality is bad if I can help it – usually I can tell what’s up by the irritation I feel when I inhale. By the way, my heart goes out to all who are not free to stay home when they are suffering and need to.

    The author of the article says to stay hydrated and get your rest – she is so right! Do not ignore this – these two things are key.

    If I have to go out I prepare as best I can by being sure I have rescue meds, water, fully charged phone, chargers, etc., on board. In summer I try to dress comfortably – light, loose, non-sweaty. Cool weather in Las Vegas is not that cold to me, so my wardrobe doesn’t change much – but winter can bring icy winds, and not only can it get into the 20’s at night sometimes, but winter dryness creates other problems for me.

    I keep my face covered if I have to go outside in wind, especially in winter. (How weird that in younger days I loved wind in my face, now it makes me panic.) I also make sure I don’t have to walk too far if I have to go somewhere on ‘extreme weather’ or ‘unhealthy air’ days, and I allow plenty of time to get to appts. so I can find the closest parking spot, or take my time if I need to walk – if weather is really bad, I will cancel appts.

    Recently bought a walking stick from the Boy Scouts to help if I need to walk a distance.

    My lungs favorite weather is very warm (up to 110) and dry, it feels so healing to me – and much different from the kind of dry that comes with winter.

    I know I am about to digress, Leon, feel free to delete, but I have a story I want to share and believe it has some merit, you decide.

    I have a tendency to want to live like everyone else, and forget why I can’t sometimes — This story begins before this summer season began… I decided to give pulmonary rehab another try, this time I felt I had the right frame of mind to fight through any negatives. BUT, a couple months in, I screwed up in an unexpected way and I hope to shed light on something that may be helpful to others when it comes to guarding our lungs.

    Pulmonary rehab was working well, I was feeling strong and starting to notice improvement in my lungs’ ability to move air, as well as my physical stamina. I wasn’t needing to use my supplemental O2 as much at home — and what was really surprising – even the humidity that was coming on with the summer heat was not bothering me like it usually did.

    One warm humid day in the beginning of July (temp. around 104) we went to dinner at a local restaurant, popular for cooking right at your table (which I didn’t know beforehand) – that should’ve been enough to sound alarms in my head – but it wasn’t. My issue was further complicated by where we ended up being seated, plus I had taken my oxygen off when we arrived (BAD MOVE – led to brain fog). We were seated in an area in a back corner that was packed with diners – my husband mentioned the smoke above our heads almost right away but when I didn’t appear to be bothered (brain fog), he let it go (he won’t do that again!) – problem was, I was already in crisis and didn’t realize it, I still don’t understand why I was oblivious to the cloud of foggy smoke above our heads.

    I’m sure the fact that the weather was humid really compounded the situation. Air was thick and ‘sticky’ inside the restaurant and not much air moving around. When I couldn’t even take the slightest breath without choking that should’ve been another ‘sign’ – but even that didn’t get my attention – I was too busy trying not to be a killjoy by letting my breathing issues ruin the evening. I should’ve been getting up and heading outside – but I just sat there and kept choking ’til finally my friend tells me to put my oxygen on and I think, “duh…why didn’t I think of that?” I also used my rescue inhaler and achieved some relief, but by this time the damage was done.

    My lack of critical thinking could’ve killed me that night, and the fact that even my own husband didn’t understand the danger caused me to realize some things – like I need to be a better caretaker of myself and my husband and friends need more education.

    I felt like I should’ve gone straight to ER from the restaurant that night, but I didn’t. I struggled for 2 days with whether or not I should make that trip. This was not my first rodeo so I chose to wait. Yes I lived, I didn’t go to the hospital, but I am still struggling to recover in the aftermath of this incident, which occurred almost 2 months ago.

    I hope this will help someone else with lung disease before they go out to dinner at a place that cooks at your table and end up in a crisis.

    More than that though, how about people who don’t have lung disease, or not as severe as mine? This kind of environment cannot be good for anyone’s lungs.

    As Theresa likens herself to a weather barometer, I also liken some of us asthmatics to ‘canaries in the coal mine’ – we are indicators of how poor the air quality is, and our numbers are increasing.

    OK, enough of me – this is “The End.”

    Thanks for the article, Theresa.

  • TerriOKC
    6 months ago

    Big swings in weather conditions tend to set off my lungs. I’m in Oklahoma and the heat and humidity are always really awful in July, August, and often even into September around here. Sometimes just going to the curb to get the mail feels like a wall of heavy, humid air is slamming into my twitchy lungs. Cough is not typically a prominent feature of my flares, but on the occasions when coughing is a problem, for some reason a steamy shower settles it down. Sounds like a weird paradox that humidity outside makes my chest feel tighter, but when coughing, the shower helps. Cold, dry winter air seems to be kinder to my lungs, unless a respiratory virus comes into play, then all bets are off!

  • JanetH
    6 months ago

    Raises hand in response to last paragraph, “Me, me, me!” I don’t have any sage coping wisdom. Air conditioning is helpful, and keeping hydrated. Keeping expectations low regarding physical activity is a good thought. If it’s really humid, I’ll forego my daily walk. If I don’t, I may pay for it later on (nothing too serious, thankfully, but my chest lets me know it wasn’t a smart idea).

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    6 months ago

    Hi JanetH and thanks for being such an enthusiastic reader (“Me, me, me!”) It’s good to see this particular article resonated so clearly with you! It sounds like you are well attuned to this condition and know what to do to stay well managed and controlled. Keep up the good work and thanks for chiming in here! Leon (site moderator)

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