Barometric pressure change and shortness of breath flare ups with COPD, Asthma, Pulmonary Fibrosis and other Pulmonary conditions.
“Why do I feel so lousy when a storm is coming?”
This is a very common question we get asked at our Pulmonary Rehab office.
Here is some information that may help answer this question:
Although it is commonly recognized that changes in barometric pressure and temperature can affect respiratory symptoms for people with COPD and asthma, there has been only one study reporting the effects of changes in meteorological conditions on respiratory symptoms in COPD. This was published by Mann and colleagues in CHEST in 1993, and the authors concluded that rising barometric pressures at times correlated with worsening symptoms. Others have noted that symptoms may increase when the barometric pressure falls, because the partial pressure of oxygen in the air drops a very small amount when this occurs. Changes in barometric pressure and temperature also affect air quality, which can exacerbate symptoms of COPD.
So, how does barometric pressure affect your lungs and your ability to breath?
For lungs to inflate, the air pressure in your lungs has to be less than the air outside the lungs. This is because air moves from high-pressure areas to low-pressure areas. During bad weather (low pressure) and at high altitudes the air pressure is lower, making it harder for you to breathe.
Finally, it has also been suggested that a drop in barometric pressure can decrease the oxygen carrying capacity of the air. This drop may be small, but it may be significant enough when you have COPD, to make you feel short of breath.
I hope you found this information helpful and that it also helps you realize that what you are feeling is very common.
Have a great day!
About the author:
David Junga, RRT is a Nationally Board Certified Registered Respiratory Therapist and Program Director at Pulmonary Rehabilitation Associates, LLC and PulmonaryRehab.com. David has been in private practice since 1999 and loves teaching patients how to overcome their shortness of breath.
David is also a Postural Alignment Specialist certified by the Egoscue University and Program Director at CtPainFree. His other passion is teaching people how to eliminate chronic pain through simple yet powerful corrective exercises.