A cross-sectional survey on the effects of ambient temperature and humidity on health outcomes in individuals with chronic respiratory disease Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Rationale Extremes of temperature and humidity are associated with adverse respiratory symptoms, reduced lung function, and increased exacerbations among individuals living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Objectives To describe the reported effects of temperature and humidity extremes on the health outcomes, health status and physical activity (PA) in individuals living with COPD. Methods A cross-sectional self-reported survey collected the effects on health status (COPD Assessment Test [CAT]), PA, and health outcomes in 1) moderate/ideal (14 to 21°C, 30 to 50% relative humidity [RH]), 2) hot and humid (≥ 25°C, > 50% RH) and 3) cold and dry (≤ 5°C, < 30% RH) weather conditions. Participants were ≥ 40 years old with COPD or related chronic respiratory diseases (e.g., asthma, sleep apnea, interstitial lung disease, lung cancer) and residing in Canada for ≥ 1 year. Negative responders to weather extremes were a priori defined as having a change of ≥ 2 points in the CAT. Main Results Thirty-six participants responded; the mean age (SD) was 65 (11) years, and 23 (64%) were females. Compared to ideal conditions, 23 (66%) and 24 (69%) were negatively affected by cold/dry and hot/humid weather, respectively. Health status was significantly lower, and PA amount and difficulty level were reduced in hot/humid and cold/dry conditions compared with ideal conditions. The number of exacerbations in hot/humid was significantly higher compared to ideal conditions. Conclusions More participants were negatively affected by extremes of weather: health status worsened, PA decreased, and frequency of exacerbations was higher compared to ideal. Future prospective studies should directly and objectively investigate different combinations of extreme temperature and humidity levels on symptoms and PA to understand their long-term health outcomes.


  • Mekhuri, Samantha
  • Quach, Shirley
  • Barakat, Caroline
  • Sun, Winnie
  • Nonoyama, Mika L

publication date

  • 2023