Study Reveals that Even 13 Days Post-Cold Exposure, You’re Still at Risk for Deadly Pneumonia!

Pneumonia, a prevalent respiratory ailment predominantly instigated by infectious agents, continually proves to be a pressing health concern across the globe. While numerous factors play a role in the progression and severity of this condition, the interplay between ambient temperatures and pneumonia susceptibility remains an enigma. Understanding this relationship is vital not just for improved medical insights but also for public health implications, especially in light of climate fluctuations and extreme weather events. Within this context, the present study aimed to uncover how varied infectious agents causing pneumonia interact with ambient temperatures. By employing comprehensive data sources and intricate analytical methods, the research hopes to shed light on an underexplored facet of pneumonia epidemiology, setting the stage for the findings and implications that ensue.

Read Also: Preventing Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia: A Case for Inhaled Amikacin

Pneumonia X Ray

Pneumonia X-Ray

Study Methodology

  • Data Source: The research hinged on the exhaustive national death registry, encompassing every county in mainland China.
  • Temporal Scope: The study spanned a seven-year period, from 2013 to 2019.
  • Exposure Classification: The deceased individuals’ residential addresses were the cornerstone for attributing exposures.
  • Analytical Techniques: A fusion of the conditional logistic regression model and distributed lag non-linear models was the mainstay for deducing exposure-response correlations. After considering spatial and temporal variations, the attributable fractions stemming from non-optimal temperatures were computed.


Descriptive Analysis:

The investigation incorporated data from 236,987 pneumonia fatalities across mainland China. Key demographics of these fatalities include:

    • 68.5% were aged over 75.
    • 57.1% were male.
    • 57.9% originated from the southern region.
    • A substantial 83.3% had educational attainment equivalent to junior middle school or below.

Temperature-Driven Pneumonia Mortality:

The plotted exposure-response curves, representing the relationship between ambient temperature and pneumonia fatalities, exhibited an inverse J-shape. Specifically, extreme cold showed a more pronounced effect.

    • Optimal temperatures for not getting sick varied for different infections:
      • 23.3°C for influenza
      • 22.3°C for viral pneumonia
      • 21.9°C for bacterial pneumonia.

Read Also: Delivering Antibiotics with the Help of Microrobots Highly Effective in Treating Deadly Pneumonia

Lag-Response Metrics:

Influenza and Viral Pneumonia (Extremely low temperature is -12.9°C and the referent temperature is 23.3°C):

  • The risk began to manifest 2 days after exposure (lag of 2 days).
  • This risk persisted and was noticeable up to 13 days post-exposure.

Bacterial Pneumonia (Extremely low temperature is -16.9°C, and the referent temperature is 21.9°C):

  • The risk became evident a week after exposure (lag of 7 days).
  • This risk continued and gradually decreased, becoming negligible by the 18th day post-exposure.

Hot Ambient Temperature:

  • The risk of influenza-related pneumonia was most pronounced on the actual day of high-temperature exposure (lag 0).
  • This risk then gradually reduced and was no longer significant after 5 days post-exposure.

Cumulative Risks:

The intensity of risks from extreme cold showcased influenza-related pneumonia as the most affected (RR: 2.46, 95% CI: 1.62–3.74), trailed by viral (RR: 1.89, 95% CI: 1.55–2.30) and bacterial pneumonia (RR: 1.81, 95% CI: 1.56–2.09). High-temperature risks were comparably uniform across all three pneumonia categories.


The findings from this study hold paramount significance for clinicians, emphasizing the necessity of recognizing the heightened risks associated with extreme temperatures. This awareness could prove instrumental in tailoring preventative measures, especially during anticipated temperature fluctuations. Furthermore, healthcare professionals might need to exercise increased vigilance for pneumonia symptoms, especially in patients exposed to extreme ambient temperatures.

Read Also: University of Virginia Discovered Hormone Capable of Combating Pneumonia

Notably, the study accentuates the augmented susceptibility of influenza-related pneumonia to low ambient temperatures. This nuance is of particular interest as it suggests that during colder spells, there might be a need for heightened surveillance for influenza cases and potentially early intervention.

Dr. Tampiwa Chebani a medical expert at Gilmore Health, aptly comments, “This groundbreaking study reaffirms the intricate ties between environmental factors and health outcomes. For clinicians, it underscores the imperativeness of remaining astutely aware of the broader factors influencing pneumonia. Knowledge like this could very well be the difference between early detection and intervention and more severe disease progression.”

Final thoughts

As our understanding of pneumonia mortality deepens, it’s clear that ambient temperature plays a significant role, especially in cases related to influenza. With the changing climate, healthcare infrastructure must adapt swiftly. Clinicians should be cognizant of these findings and anticipating and planning for extreme temperatures can drastically reduce morbidity and mortality.

Furthermore, as we move forward, proactive collaboration between various sectors, including meteorologists and health professionals, is imperative. This could lead to forecasting models that aid in preemptive interventions. Preparing for the environmental challenges ahead will not only save lives but also bolster our healthcare response in an ever-changing world.


He, Q., Liu, Y., Yin, P., Gao, Y., Kan, H., Zhou, M., … & [et al.]. (2023). Differentiating the impacts of ambient temperature on pneumonia mortality of various infectious causes: a nationwide, individual-level, case-crossover study. eBioMedicine, 98.



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