The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 08-13-2007, 10:18 AM
Rusalka Rusalka is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Posts: 972
Is it normal for your lungs to hurt in humid weather?

I've noticed that when I walk briskly in weather that is both hot and humid (walking in 95 degrees) my lungs hurt a little when I breathe. It's the same kind of pain that you get if you run until you're out of breath, except I'm not running. I'm a little out of shape, but I'm not old and I've been exercising and walking every day. The out of breath feeling only happens when it's very humid. Hot and dry doesn't feel this way. Can someone explain why?

I can't remember if I've ever noticed it before, because it's not been this hot and humid where I live, or maybe I've never tried to walk briskly in this kind of weather before. Yes, I'm going to see my doctor.

Last edited by Rusalka; 08-13-2007 at 10:20 AM..
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 08-13-2007, 11:13 AM
Napier Napier is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Mid Atlantic, USA
Posts: 7,937
This answer may be obliquely useful.

People with chronic bronchitis often find high humidity painful, and some sources recommend keeping humidities between 40% and 50% RH.

When humidity is high, molds prosper, and they are hard on many people's respiration.

Since other animals pant when they are having a hard time exporting enough body heat, I wonder if we do too? Maybe you're breathing more because in high humidity your sweating is less effective and you're starting to pant? Note, this last suggestion is only speculative, whereas the first two I understand are generally accepted as true.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 08-13-2007, 01:22 PM
Pullet Pullet is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
A bit of googling "difficulty breathing humid weather" turns up useful links. It looks like the general theory is as Napier suggests. When the weather is humid, it's harder for your body to cool itself, since sweating isn't going to work as well. So, your breathing rate tends to go up as you try to pant away the heat. But panting is just another form of evaporative cooling like sweating.

My advice: find a comfy bar/coffee shop and settle in until nightfall.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 08-13-2007, 02:22 PM
Quercus Quercus is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Another possible --though maybe not the most likely -- explanation is that the humid days happen to coincide with high air pollution days. High ozone can cause tightness or discomfort in the lungs.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 08-13-2007, 05:33 PM
Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Dogpatch/Middle TN.
Posts: 28,660
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quercus
Another possible --though maybe not the most likely -- explanation is that the humid days happen to coincide with high air pollution days. High ozone can cause tightness or discomfort in the lungs.
Nashville has an ozone alert on, & I've been suffering all day.
__________________
"The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity."
~~~William Butler Yeats
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 08-13-2007, 07:33 PM
Race Bannon Race Bannon is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
I'm a runner. On hot humid days, I take it slow, but I can clearly identify a different feeling in my lungs when running. Not pain, but a kind of stress similar to running hard in cool weather, but it kicks in at a much lesser level of effort. My breathing and heart rate shoot up at a speed that would be much easier in cool weather. I believe the body is deliberately switching your resparation and blood flow to your lungs for cooling, not just oxygen. With high humidity, the results aren't as good as when it's dry.
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:04 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.