Does living in a dry climate affect COPD symptoms?

6 answers | Last updated: Feb 16, 2016
Sea shore asked...

My mom has COPD and and I was wondering how a dry climates affect people with this disease? I am looking at a couple jobs in Phoenix, AZ we live in central Florida at the present and the warmer climates do make a difference. The cold doesn't work for her.


Expert Answers

Loutfi S. Aboussouan is a staff physician for the Cleveland Clinic's Respiratory Institute and Neurological Institute. He is board certified in internal medicine, pulmonary disease, critical care medicine, and sleep medicine and directs the pulmonary curriculum for the second-year class of the Cleveland Clinic Lerner School of Medicine.

There is a popular impression that dry and warmer climates may be better for patients with COPD and other breathing disorders. For instance, Arizona was often promoted for patients with various lung diseases including asthma and tuberculosis. However, there is no research confirming that notion. Air pollution in the Phoenix area has also been a recent concern, particularly since pollution is recognized as a possible cause of COPD flares. In the balance, much depends on what worsens your mother's COPD. So for example, if she has overlapping allergies triggered by molds or dust mites that flourish in humid environments, then a dryer climate may be beneficial. Alternatively, if she is prone to exacerbations or flares of COPD this should not necessarily limit your choice to move. You already indicate that warmer climates make a favorable difference in her case. I would make sure she follows the air quality alerts. If possible try to have her visit the area for an extended period before the move.


Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

LIVE IN E.TEXAS AND WHEN COLD FRONT MOVES THRU IT MAKES A DRAMATIC DIFFERENCE IN MY COPD.MUCH LESS MUCUS AND MUCH EASIER TO BREATHE. WHEN HUMIDITY GOES UP MORE MUCUS COMES BACK AND BREATHING IS MORE DIFFICULT. HAPPENS THE SAME WITH EACH COLD FRONT. MY COPD IS FROM A BACTERIAL LUNG INFECTION AND AM A LIFE LONG NON-SMOKER.

FLINT, TEXAS


Pinky212 answered...

Checking out the air quality indices provided at weather web sites and the American Lung Association throughout the country can help you make a decision. My sister who has COPD and lives in Minnesota wintered two years ago in Phoenix. Her condition was worse! Only after she arrived, did she check on the air quality index for Arizona and found it to be the worst state in the Country for particulars -- dust). She stayed in Minnesota this past winter. There are a couple of cities -- Kingman and Lake Havasu -- that are the best in AZ, but still not good.

We've laughed at how when we were growing up (I'm 65), only the "rich old people" went to AZ for the winter with the not-so-rich having to endure the Minnesota wintr weather and it got a reputation as a haven for good health for the elderly. Of course, it didn't have the pollution back then. However, it's the minute tiny dust particles that cause it to be bad for breathing, and certainly most, if not all, "old people" already have diminished lung function. But breathing in tiny dust particles 24/7 isn't good for anyone.

Another thing to be aware of: A person can develop an allergy when he/she moves if the plant life is different from wherever you came from. That was a problem for her, too. Needless to say, she had a miserable winter in this haven for the elderly, although she enjoyed the sun when she was outdoors -- which wasn't often and ended up having to run an air cleaner until she had an air conditioner installed in the RV she moved down there to live in to do the same thing, albeit more efficiently.

I do understand, though, that the drier climate is great for many arthritus and fibromyalgia sufferers. But as a person living with COPD, I, too, have scratched AZ from my list of places to "winter" in. Sorry AZ citizens, but air quality IS very important for everyone.


Coping in illinois answered...

Would living in Colorado help with your COPD, my husband has episodes. We live in Illinois and when the humidity is high, his breathing is bad and if a cold front comes through its a little better....He walks to the mailbox and back and by the time he returns he is gasping for breath, soon it will pass.


Looking to get out answered...

@Coping in Illinois: Absolutely NOT Colorado! We only live at 6,000 ft above sea level and it almost killed my husband once and we're looking for a new place to go. We can't both enjoy going into the mountains anymore and he has been forced to be on oxy and nebulizer.


Shirley klumm answered...

My dad moved to Phoenix, hoping the hotter, drier air would help his emphysema (COPD). What people need to understand when considering Arizona as a drier climate is that, when the monsoon moves in the humidity goes up (way up), as does the temperature. Do you like 115 degree heat with 80 % humidity? At any rate he passed away three years after moving to Phoenix. And, the air pollution wasn't nearly as bad as it is now. Stay in Florida.