Cold weather-related sensitivity among asthmatics and determinants affecting it

Thesis event information

Date and time of the thesis defence

Place of the thesis defence

Faculty of Medicine, Auditorium F202 (Aapistie 5 B). Remote access:

Topic of the dissertation

Cold weather-related sensitivity among asthmatics and determinants affecting it

Doctoral candidate

Master of Health Sciences Henna Hyrkäs-Palmu

Faculty and unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Faculty of Medicine, Center for Environmental and Respiratory Health Research

Subject of study

Public health


Professor Bo Lundbäck, University of Gothenburg


Professor Jouni J. K. Jaakkola, University of Oulu

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Cold weather increases the prevalence of respiratory symptoms and functional disability among patients with asthma and/or allergic rhinitis

The dissertation studied respiratory symptoms and functional disability caused by cold weather among patients with asthma and/or allergic rhinitis. In addition, the effect of asthma control on the occurrence of cold weather-related respiratory symptoms was studied among asthmatics.

Asthma and allergic rhinitis are very common diseases both in Finland and internationally. In Finland, about 9% of the population has physician-diagnosed asthma, and the incidence of asthma has increased in recent decades. Allergic rhinitis is even more common than asthma: in Finland, about 33% of the adult population suffers from it.

The study showed that cold weather-related respiratory symptoms, such as shortness of breath and prolonged cough, are common already among young adults with asthma. In addition, if people with asthma had allergic rhinitis, they reported more symptoms than those with asthma alone.

The second sub-study of the dissertation also found that in the adult population, exposure to cold air causes more functional disability and exacerbation of health problems among people with asthma and/or allergic rhinitis than among people without these diseases.

Asthma control can be measured by questionnaires that have been showed to describe the current state of asthma control. The third sub-study of the dissertation found that the worse the asthma control, the more cold weather-related respiratory symptoms were reported.

The study provides new information on the effects of cold environment on functional ability in asthmatics of different ages. Research results can help asthmatics maintain their ability to function and work even in the cold weather, which can reduce sick leaves and lower costs for both employers and health care. Appropriate action in a cold environment prevents the health effects of the cold weather, such as exacerbations of asthma, and respiratory infections.
Last updated: 1.3.2023