Allergy season is upon us. Here’s how to protect your lungs from COPD and allergies moving forward.
Allergies are no fun for those who are allergic. However, for those with a chronic lung disease like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), allergy season, and the pollen and spores that come with it, can be potentially dangerous. As we’ve mentioned before, allergies can be an incredible source of internal aggravation in those with weakened respiratory systems, sparking exacerbations and inflammation within the lungs.
In a sense, allergy season can turn the entire outdoors into an atmosphere that is not conducive to the respiratory needs of those with COPD. Similar to the harsh environmental air quality conditions of a mine or a construction site, a particularly intense allergy season can be just as intensive on the lungs. Further still, allergy season—particularly for those who are allergic—can further exacerbate conditions and symptoms of those with chronic lung disease by making coughing, phlegm production, shortness of breath and general breathing worse.
With your health in mind, the Lung Institute is here to explain COPD and Allergies: Why Clean Air is Vital for Better Breathing?
COPD and Allergies – Allergy Season and What to Avoid
An allergy by its definition is an abnormal reaction by the body to an allergen. An allergen can be anything from plant pollen, dust mites, molds, insect stings or food. Allergy season can vary depending on where you live occurring at roughly any time in the year outside of winter. Most commonly associated with the coming of spring and the heat of summer, the air particulates produced by allergy season can provoke a wide range of internal responses from your body.
In truth, your body’s immunomodulatory reaction to these allergens (sneezing, coughing, watery eyes etc.) are your body’s natural response to getting these harmful reactants out.
Typically, in combatting these elements, you would avoid areas of high pollen (certain parks or fields) and may take an over-the-counter anti-allergen like Benadryl or Claritin. However, when dealing with a chronic respiratory condition such as COPD, being prone to these environmental reactants can be particularly dangerous as those with lung disease are inherently prone to aggravated respiratory symptoms and weakened immune systems.
So, how do I avoid these allergens?
As we’ve stated above, a good rule is to understand what allergy season is, how and when it hits and to be pre-emptive about it. You want to take over-the-counter medications such as antihistamines, decongestants, nasal sprays and eye drops to mitigate your symptom expression as much as possible. If the case is severe enough, an allergy shot may be an option to be considered as well.
Aside from medication based prevention, sometimes a few changes in your behavior can be helpful in relieving allergy symptoms and attack. Staying indoors during periods of high pollen or dust can be particularly helpful, as is the practice of cleaning your air filters, washing your hair after you go outside, vacuuming and keeping your windows closed.
Understanding How COPD Affects Breathing
As we touched upon earlier, for those with COPD, the risk of having an exacerbation is fundamentally higher when the prospect of an allergic reaction—as a result of an allergen is introduced. In short, the general symptoms of COPD—coughing, excessive phlegm production, wheezing and shortness of breath, can be severely worsened by the presence of allergens in the air. In effect, an exposure to an allergen typically narrows the airways and increases mucus production, which ultimately makes it harder to breathe.
Better Breathing During Allergy Season – Tips to Avoiding Exacerbations
In order to avoid COPD exacerbations and the allergens that cause them, follow these general avoidance guidelines when dealing with pollen, dust mites, pet dander, mold, chemical fumes and scented products.
- Limit time outdoors
- Keep your windows closed at home and in the car
- Use a HEPA filter for your air conditioning unit
- If you can, replace carpets with wood or tile floors
- Wash your bedding and area rugs
- Vacuum often
- Use HEPA filters in your heating and cooling systems
- Bathe your pets regularly
- If the problem becomes too severe, consider moving them outside or rehoming
- Check for mold in moist areas (faucets, showerheads, pipes and roofs)
- Keep indoor humidity levels to 40 to 60 percent
- Use air conditioners, dehumidifiers and fans to reduce mold accumulation
- If you find mold, hire a professional
- Avoid using cleaning fluids in indoor areas without proper ventilation
- Use natural chemicals like vinegar, baking soda and mild soap solutions to clean
Scented Hygiene Products
- Avoid scented soaps, shampoos, perfumes and other hygiene products.
- Get rid of candles and air fresheners as well
So, You’ve Dealt with Your Allergy Problem. Now What?
COPD and allergies can make your day-to-day quality of life more difficult, but by taking the steps to avoid these triggers, it’s possible to improve your health as well as breathing. Although making lasting change in your life can be difficult, it’s critically important in managing your ongoing health and future.
With a few behavioral changes, it’s possible to greatly affect the pronouncement of symptoms within those with COPD, emphysema and pulmonary fibrosis. However, when lifestyle changes fail to improve your quality of life in the way that you may expect, it may be time to consider stem cell therapy. Rather than addressing the symptoms of lung disease, stem cell therapy may directly affect disease progression and may improve quality of life.
For more information on stem cell therapy and what it could mean for your life moving forward, contact us today or call us at (800) 729-3065. Our patient coordinators will walk you through our available treatment options and talk through your current health and medical history.
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