Living in damp river valleys leads to lung problems

September 23, 2011

Amsterdam, The Netherlands: A new study has shown that living in a river valley at low altitude can increase the risk of developing lung problems.

The research will be presented tomorrow (25 September 2011) at the European Respiratory Society's (ERS) Annual Congress in Amsterdam. The ERS Congress will officially open today (24 September 2011).

In the first study of its kind, researchers from the UK aimed to assess the impact of weather, pollution and geography on the symptoms of people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This is the first evidence to find a link between increased respiratory symptoms and lower altitude areas of river valleys.

River valleys are typically damp areas in which cool layers of air get trapped below layers of warmer air. Known as a temperature inversion, this leads to mists and fogs which keep suspended droplets of water in the air, causing humid conditions.

Over the course of a year, daily respiratory symptoms of 52 people with COPD were monitored. The frequency of symptom exacerbation was then compared with the altitude and how close the subjects lived to the river, as well as with selected weather and pollution variables. These variables included humidity, temperature and dew point, which is the temperature below which water droplets begin to condense and dew can form.

To measure the impact of these factors, the researchers compared their data with the average number of exacerbations and the usual symptoms experienced by all participants.

The results demonstrated that there were a number of links between the weather conditions in a river valley and an exacerbation of COPD symptoms. The findings revealed that patients experienced a higher frequency of COPD exacerbations the lower the altitude they lived at, and symptoms were also exacerbated by high humidity and low dew point.

The authors conclude that lung problems can be heightened due to the unique climate in a river valley. The suspended droplets of water in the air retain particles and pollutants, leading to adverse symptoms.

Prof Richard Lewis, one of the lead authors from the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, said: "Our study is the first to assess the impact that living in a river valley has on the symptoms of COPD patients. As a result of this unique combination of weather and climate, toxic particles and pollutants - which would otherwise be small enough to be inhaled but subsequently exhaled - become attached to droplets and are then retained within the lung causing exacerbation of symptoms."
-end-


European Lung Foundation

Related COPD Articles from Brightsurf:

Promising therapeutic approach against COPD
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is one of the most common and deadliest diseases worldwide.

COPD underdiagnosed in older adults, but can be managed
''Recognizing and Treating COPD in Older Adults'' the latest issue of the What's Hot newsletter from The Gerontological Society of America, addresses what is known about the prevalence, incidence, and impact of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in older adults.

Undersized airways may explain why nonsmokers get COPD
A mismatch between airway and lung size may explain why some nonsmokers get COPD and some heavy smokers do not, according to a new study from Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

Is pulmonary rehab after hospitalization for COPD associated with better survival?
Claims data for nearly 200,000 Medicare patients were used to examine the association between starting pulmonary rehabilitation within 90 days of being hospitalized for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and survival after one year.

COPD and smoking associated with higher COVID-19 mortality
Current smokers and people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have an increased risk of severe complications and higher mortality with COVID-19 infection, according to a new study published May 11, 2020 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Jaber Alqahtani of University College London, UK, and colleagues.

COPD as a lung stem cell disease
Two internationally renowned stem cell researchers at the University of Houston have found an abundance of abnormal stem cells in the lungs of patients who suffer from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), a leading cause of death worldwide.

New hope for COPD patients possible with in-home device
In a new paper published Feb. 4 in JAMA, Mayo Clinic researchers describe the benefits of in-home noninvasive ventilation therapy, which includes a type referred to as bilevel positive airway pressure, or BiPAP -- for many patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

COPD appears to cause more severe symptoms in women
Women who develop COPD report smoking fewer cigarettes than men; and yet, women experience greater breathing impairments, are subjected to more acute exacerbations of symptoms and report lower quality of life than men with the disease, according to research presented at ATS 2019.

African-Americans with COPD appear less likely to use pulmonary rehab
African-American patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, are less likely to participate in pulmonary rehabilitation programs than white patients, even when there are programs nearby.

COPD and type 2 diabetes
COPD and type 2 diabetes are two highly prevalent global health conditions associated with high mortality and morbidity.

Read More: COPD News and COPD Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.