Search IconSearch
March 3, 2021/Health Conditions/Lung

5 Tips to Help You Breathe Easier in Hot or Cold Weather

How to cope with changing air quality, weather factors

young lady sitting in front of standing fan to cool down

Air quality and changing weather can sometimes wreak havoc on your ability to breathe. In particular, rising heat and humidity can make it more difficult to catch your breath. If you have a chronic lung condition, such as asthma or COPD, you may struggle even more with changing weather conditions.


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

“People who have lung conditions have their own circumstances and triggers that make them feel better or worse,” says pulmonary medicine specialist Sumita Khatri, MD.

“For example, some people are more affected in the winter due to the cold temperatures that dry the air passages. Others are more affected in hot, humid weather, due to the heaviness of moisture in the air. And some are more affected when there are rapid changes in temperature and barometric pressure, which can make it difficult to readily adjust,” she says.

1. Adapt to the weather

Although it’s true you can’t change the weather, you can take steps to adapt.

“Taking measures to keep temperature fluctuations as minimal as possible can help,” says Dr. Khatri.

“For instance, if you’re going from hot weather into air conditioning, put on a sweater,” she says. ”When going from heated buildings into cold weather, dress warmly and cover your nose and mouth. The cover will help warm and humidify the air as you breathe in.”

2. Avoid triggers you can control

In addition to temperature changes, there are other environmental triggers that can make it more difficult to breathe.

If you smoke, take steps to quit. If not, do your best to avoid secondhand smoke and other potential irritants, including:

  • Other types of smoke.
  • Fumes.
  • Outdoor allergy triggers.
  • High humidity and heat.
  • Aerosol products.
  • Insecticides.
  • Cleaning products.
  • Mold, dust and mildew.

3. Use medications if needed

If you have a chronic lung condition, your doctor can prescribe medications to help you manage weather-related breathing difficulties. Medications commonly prescribed for chronic lung disease include:

  • Bronchodilators.
  • Anti-inflammatory agents.
  • Oxygen.
  • Antibiotics.

“In patients with both asthma and COPD, using medications or inhalers regularly that doctors prescribe to control inflammation will render the airways less sensitive to temperature fluctuations,” Dr. Khatri says. “The better you control your disease and inflammation, the more resilient your lungs will be.”

4. Embrace a healthy lifestyle

Once you’ve learned to adjust to changing air quality and avoid irritants, there are things you can do every day to help you breathe easier:

  • Maintain a healthy diet.
  • Commit to a structured exercise program.
  • Prevent respiratory infections.
  • Control stress.
  • Maintain proper hydration, and drink plenty of water in warm and hot weather.


5. Know when to see your doctor

Even though it may seem normal to have more difficulty breathing when weather conditions are extreme, there are times when you should seek medical help.

“In most cases, shortness of breath is not normal,” says Dr. Khatri.

“Any new shortness of breath should be immediately evaluated, as should any shortness of breath that can’t be explained by the cold or flu or by just being ‘out of shape’,” she says. “And if at any point you notice you’re having breathing difficulty that’s interfering with your normal activity, you need to seek medical care to have your symptoms further evaluated.”


Learn more about our editorial process.

Related Articles

Caregivers holding toddler, playing in ocean
June 18, 2024/Infectious Disease
How To Stay Safe From Recreational Waterborne Diseases

You can reduce your risk by not swallowing water, and showering before and after swimming

People biking, scootering and walking in a park
June 11, 2024/Children's Health
Cycle Smart: 8 Bike Safety Tips for Kids

Make sure their bike is the right size, find a helmet that fits properly and teach them the rules of the road

Smiling parent holding smiling baby in a pool
June 7, 2024/Children's Health
When Can Babies Go in the Pool?

Wait until they’re at least 6 months old before your little one takes their first dunk

Glass of beer on table at beach with beach-goers
June 3, 2024/Skin Care & Beauty
Why Experts Say To Avoid Beer Tanning

You’re putting your skin at risk of sunburn and even skin cancer when you pour on the beer

Smiling person under sunny blue sky, holding tube of sunscreen, applying to face
May 24, 2024/Primary Care
The Difference Between Mineral and Chemical Sunscreens

Mineral sunscreens have a heavier texture to create a physical barrier, while chemical sunscreens are lighter and use a chemical reaction to prevent UV damage

Fish and mango soft taco
May 24, 2024/Recipes
Recipe Adventure: 7 Easy Summer Meals That Won’t Make You Sweat

From grilled peaches to grilled chicken pesto pizza, these easy summer recipes are sure to delight all summer long

Lifeguard looking at water with binoculars while two kids fly kites on the beach
May 23, 2024/Primary Care
12 Summer Health Risks To Watch Out For

From bug bites and blisters to sunstroke and swimming safety, here’s how to stay well this season

Jellyfish sting on wrist and thigh
May 20, 2024/Primary Care
Should You Pee on a Jellyfish Sting?

This persistent myth isn’t true and can actually cause more pain than relief

Trending Topics

Female and friend jogging outside
How To Increase Your Metabolism for Weight Loss

Focus on your body’s metabolic set point by eating healthy foods, making exercise a part of your routine and reducing stress

stovetop with stainless steel cookware and glassware
5 Ways Forever Chemicals (PFAS) May Affect Your Health

PFAS chemicals may make life easier — but they aren’t always so easy on the human body

jar of rice water and brush, with rice scattered around table
Could Rice Water Be the Secret To Healthier Hair?

While there’s little risk in trying this hair care treatment, there isn’t much science to back up the claims