The official blog of the Lung Institute.
Allergies can occur during any time of year. Typically, people think of spring as the time of year when allergy symptoms strike the most. However, fall can also cause many people’s allergies to flare-up. Fall is here. Leaves are falling, and there’s a crisp snap in the air that lets us know winter is coming soon. Many people look forward to favorite holidays and chilly weather, and those who live close to the land may mark the passage of time by the changing seasons as their calendar. Unfortunately, the coming of autumn brings with it opportunities for exposure to allergens in our indoor air. There is no known cure for seasonal allergies, but a few things may help us avoid the worst effects of some of the irritating things that can generally be found in the air this season. Here are some tips to avoid flare-ups from COPD and allergies.
What Can Allergies Do to COPD?
If you live with a lung disease like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), allergies can exacerbate your symptoms. Allergies can act as a sort of lung irritant, increasing inflammation and postnasal drip. This can lead to a lung disease flare-up with frequent coughing and wheezing. Taking antihistamines can help reduce your reactions. Staying indoors when possible may also help. If you are experiencing severe allergies this season, talk to your doctor about a new treatment plan.
Physicians generally treat allergies with over-the-counter and prescription medications. Antihistamines, decongestants, nasal sprays and eyes drops are the typical treatment options given to patients. Sometimes, a procedure or allergy shots are given to help provide additional relief. There are also a few things that can be done at home to help prevent allergies. Stay indoors during dusty periods or when wildfire smoke is present, clean your air filters, wash your hair after going outside, keep doors and windows closed, and vacuum at least twice a week.
Do You Suffer from COPD and Allergies?
To the majority of the population, allergies are an inconvenience that can be dealt with through a trip to the doctor, an allergy shot, and a package of tissues. For people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) — the third leading cause of death in the United States — allergies increase the likelihood of an exacerbation, also known as a flare-up. A poorly-handled flare-up can land a person in the hospital and heighten their susceptibility to subsequent infection.
Flowers, trees, grass, pollen and mold spores can all bring on an allergy attack. Such attacks may include shortness of breath, increased mucus production, chest tightness, and wheezing. Flare-ups are the number one cause of hospitalization for people with COPD. Flare-ups can be fatal. There are triggers that can cause a flare-up, and the presence of seasonal allergy symptoms in someone with COPD is one such trigger. Preventing an allergy attack can reduce the likelihood of a life-threatening flare-up.
5 Tips for Avoiding Flare-Ups from COPD and Allergies
Here are a few tips and resources to help people with COPD and other forms of lung disease to avoid a flare-up from COPD and allergies:
- Stay Indoors – Leave shoes outside to avoid tracking in pollen and spores, and wash clothes after spending time outside.
- Close the Windows – The breeze may feel wonderful this time of year, but allergens are on the wind. By keeping windows closed residual pollen and other allergens can’t make their way into the home.
- Change HVAC Filters & Vacuum – Change home air conditioning filters and car filters often. If allergens bother you, it’s worth paying a few dollars more for a better-quality filter. Vacuum and mop floors regularly to keep your home as free of allergens as possible.
- Fix Water Leaks – Leaky pipes or areas that have water damage can promote the growth of mold, especially during months when the house is sealed against the cold. Mold can have a detrimental effect on overall health, and especially lung health.
- Avoid Other Triggers – Avoid cigarette smoke, low-quality candles, perfumes, cleaning agents with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), air that’s too dry or too humid, and pet dander.
Resources for COPD and Allergies
We can’t control the weather, but there are some helpful resources available year-round to monitor air quality in your local area. The Weather Channel’s website has a search option to see what’s blooming by zip code and how bad the pollen index is on a given day. Pollen.com is also a good reference to check the pollen forecast, allergy forecast, and cold and flu forecast for the upcoming week. Now, you’ll be better prepared to stay on top of COPD and allergies.
Prescription medications and inhalers can help lung disease sufferers with allergy symptoms. However, for people experiencing flare-ups, stem cell therapy can help. Stem cell therapy doesn’t replace the need for medications, but it has improved the quality of life for people with COPD and other chronic lung diseases.
About Lung Institute
The Lung Institute (LI) is improving the quality of life for people across the nation through the innovative technology of regenerative medicine. We are committed to providing our patients an effective way to address debilitating pulmonary conditions. Our physicians apply minimally invasive stem cell therapies, and have established a patient experience designed with the highest concern for patient safety and quality of care. If you or a loved one has COPD, emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis or another chronic lung disease and would like to learn more about treatment options, contact us or call (800) 729-3065.