June 12, 2015

Why Cuenca Ecuador’s Climate (Weather) May Not Be For Everyone

Note: this article pertains to only certain individuals who have experienced upper respiratory issues in the past or have respiratory issues and or lung problems such as asthma, emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and or bronchial issues.  It is in no way meant to be written with everyone in mind. 

Typical summer sky
Cuenca Climate and Weather

The weather in Cuenca is often boasted as being perfect because it does not get too hot and it doesn’t get too cold; it never freezes and rarely gets a frost; it never snows; and it never gets too humid. But for some folks the chillier winter months from June through September can leave a lasting imprint on ones constitution as can the wet season that lasts from January through May; and this is especially so if a person smokes, works around exhaust fumes, chemical factories, etc, or has experienced any kind of upper respiratory issues or lung troubles in the past.


Altitude and Chronic Respiratory Issues Do Not Mix

Some folks have had to move away from Cuenca because they had chronic respiratory problems after living in Cuenca for awhile. The cement homes rarely get the ventilation they need, which can breed mold and at the very least, stale impure air, which can cause a lowered immune system. The high altitude can be treacherous for someone who already has health issues that impede clear, full breathing; we’re talking about the few folks that have Asthma, emphysema, or COPD.

People with COPD (bronchitis, emphysema and asthma) and other respiratory conditions live a more comfortable lifestyle at sea level. High altitude, coupled with daily exposure to exhaust fumes and air pollutants also exacerbate the symptoms of COPD.
Source:  http://www.everydayhealth.com/copd/best-places-for-copd-patients.aspx

The lack of sunshine in Cuenca can also be an issue since the damp, chilly homes have less opportunity to really dry out. it is an established fact, in areas where there’s lots of sunshine, mold growth is much less apt to grow. Salinas Ecuador, for example is more humid than Cuenca because it is situated on the Ecuador coastline, however, the buildings inside and outside do not harbor the mold growth at the same rate as some of the buildings/ homes do in Cuenca. Cuenca get's an average of 150 hours of sunshine per month. Here's the climate report. 

Here’s a video that actually shows the difference in mold growth on buildings in SALINAS AND CUENCA.  https://youtu.be/XWc7MP-cWnA


Our personal observations has shown Cuenca to have way more sunny days in the winter months July through September than any other time of year.

Typical winter day - beautiful!
To top it off, in certain areas in Cuenca, especially where many buses travel, the diesel fumes spewing out of the buses and older trucks on a daily basis can wreck havoc on your immune system eventually facilitating chronic respiratory weakness in some people. 

You do not have to live right off the busy roads where all the buses and older vehicles travel for the exhaust fumes to enter into your home either; we live two good blocks off the busy main thoroughfare and we still receive exhaust fumes in our home. The pollution (ozone) levels have been reported to be extremely high in Cuenca Ecuador, partly because Cuenca is nestled inside a bowl where carbon dioxide fumes cannot easily escape. 

Source: https://bootheglobalperspectives.com/article/1383917529WBG354454328/cuenca-ecuador-a-beautiful-city-in-a-fog-of-fumes

Healthy folks that have never smoked or who have never experienced upper respiratory problems in the past will most likely initially not notice any difference to their health except for possibly a mild headache, but those that intend to enjoy the outdoor aspect of living in an Andean climate by doing lots of walking on a daily basis etc, may need to stay alert to potential respiratory weakness down the road, depends on where your weak point(s) in your body are. Thankfully the TRAM will be done in a few years which hopefully will get some of the buses off the road.

We have clearly observed after four plus years of living in Cuenca that during the chillier months the amount of sick people in Cuenca triples, while many of them are hacking, coughing up phlegm and spitting; that’s now by the way, and you should make sure to take good care of your body and build up a strong immune system before being around crowded public places during this time.

In the U.S doctors tell their patients with COPD to move to dryer, lower altitude climates.  People even attest to the Arizona, New Mexico climate as a big improvement on their overall health. It might be the same way for some folks that move to Cuenca; it really just comes down to your general health and individual weaknesses; most people do fine living in Cuenca, for many years; however we do recommend anyone with upper respiratory tract issues to try and stay off the busier roads where all the buses travel.

We do know that while the majority of people are healthy, there is a small minority that is not that healthy, and the Cuenca weather, coupled with unventilated homes, mixed with the pollution and altitude will prove to be not an ideal climate for a small minority of folks

This article is written from our own personal experience as well as talking with other expats who came to Cuenca with previous respiratory/lung issues. To find out more about Cuenca weather, go here.


If you liked this article we think you will like this video too!
                    

We're an Expat Family of Five, Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy in Cuenca Ecuador! Enjoy the Discover Cuenca Ecuador blog!

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