WHY BREATHING IN COLD AIR HURTS
This week the topic is a fun one, not requiring explanation or interpretation of research.
The Weather Channel often presents brief science lessons related to weather. Most who keep this TV cable channel on for long stretches of time, like background music, love these education breaks. It’s why we watch so devotedly.
This week there was an item about why outdoor exercisers might sometimes complain that breathing cold air hurts. Why a burning sensation might be felt in the throat and chest. Later in the day when I searched the TWC website for a video or mention of this particular lesson, to use it for this post, it could not be located. An internet search explained why. It turns out the TWC staff have a website on which to post stories like this! Who knew? It is www.weloveweather.tv.
The explanation is simple; it’s the dryness not the cold. Inspired air must be at body temperature and 100% humidity by the time it reaches the lungs. After passing through the nasal passages (nose) and oral cavity (mouth) it reaches the trachea. Since winter air is extremely dry, cells lining this tubular structure are tasked with using their own moisture to raise air humidity levels to 100% and temperature to 98.6 degrees.
This process can leave tracheal tissues dehydrated and irritated. Especially when lots of air is moved into the respiratory tract very quickly.
Stop running or being active outdoors in cold weather (not an option for many)
Wear a mask or scarf covering the mouth to pre-warm/moisten air before it enters the body
Breathe through your nose, it’s large surface area is better at warming than the trachea
Stay hydrated to give your tissues every chance to do their work
Weather lovers not only have an explanation for a physical reaction to frigid temps but they may now have more weather channel information available.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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