Inversion worsens symptoms for asthma, COPD sufferers

Posted at 5:10 PM, Dec 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-11 19:10:19-05

Waking up to an inversion day after day is enough to put you in a bad mood, but if you suffer from a respiratory condition, it could also be bad for your health.

A temperature inversion occurs when a layer of warm air settles over a layer of cold air. Since the layers of air do not move, the air does not mix. The cold air ends up trapped underneath along with air pollution. 

"With car emissions or smoke or anything like that, there in an increase in the pollutants and then it increases the risk for people that have breathing conditions," St. Luke's Chief Nursing Officer Joan Agee said.

Inversions are natural and occur year round. They're neither caused by, nor the cause of, air pollution. 

However, an inversion can trap air pollution near the ground, thereby increasing the potential for higher concentrations of air pollution in a specific area. Because of this, temperature inversions and air pollution issues are often linked. 

People with Asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), or other airway disease may want to take more precautions during an inversion. 

"They should not be afraid to call their provider and ask for help or make an appointment if they sense that they are getting worsening symptoms, which could be shortness of breath [or] increased cough," Agee said.

During a prolonged inversion, those with respiratory issues are advised to spend more time indoors and avoid outdoor exercise.