The official blog of the Lung Institute.
For people living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), avoiding COPD triggers is important. The first step is to learn about the most common triggers. While it can be challenging to avoid COPD triggers, here are some tips to help you breathe easier.
Weather and temperature extremes can worsen COPD symptoms. In particular, temperatures below freezing or above 90 degrees Fahrenheit can be more dangerous for people with COPD. Other factors that contribute to triggering symptoms include overly dry air, very humid air and wind. Keep in mind that weather and temperature changes can affect people differently, and what triggers one person’s COPD symptoms may not trigger someone else’s.
During cold, windy weather, dress in warm clothing, and cover your nose and mouth while you’re outside. You can use a scarf or try a CT Mask for COPD, which is designed to keep the air you breathe warm and moist. However, if the weather is too cold or too hot, plan to stay indoors to avoid COPD triggers.
Outdoor Air Pollution
Air pollution can irritate the lungs, triggering COPD symptoms. Outdoor allergens and pollutants include dust, pollen, mold, smog, smoke from outdoor fires or wildfires, odors from industrial plants or road construction and fumes. While it can be challenging to avoid COPD triggers like these, it’s important to be aware of them.
During an outdoor air pollution or ozone alert, it’s best for people with COPD to stay indoors with the windows closed and the air conditioner on. Remember to replace your home’s HVAC filter regularly and to check the air quality in your area before going outside.
Cigarette Smoking and Second-hand Smoke
For someone with COPD, one of the most important changes you can make is to quit smoking and remain smoke-free. Smoking is the number one cause of COPD. Cigarette smoke contains tar and various toxic chemicals that irritate the lungs. It also damages the cilia, which are the tiny hairs that clean the airways. Because of these factors, smoking can increase the risk of infections and flare-ups. While quitting smoking is challenging, being smoke-free is vitally important. Give our free smoking cessation guide a try, and talk with your doctor about other quit smoking tips.
Like smoking, second-hand smoke irritates the lungs and can change how the lungs and airways work. To avoid second-hand smoke, do not allow smoking in your home. If someone wants to smoke, ask him or her to smoke outside and away from windows and doors.
The best way to avoid COPD triggers likes smoking and second-hand smoke is to make your home a smoke-free environment. If you’re having trouble quitting smoking for good, reach out to friends, family, doctor and local quit smoking support groups.
Indoor Allergens or Irritants
While outdoor air pollutants and allergens can trigger COPD symptoms, indoor air quality can also affect lung health. Sometimes, indoor air quality can be worse than outdoor air quality. Sources of indoor air pollution include chemical products, allergens, mold, building materials and combustion sources like tobacco smoke, gas, oil, space heaters and furnaces.
Carpets, drapes and bedding hold allergens like dust and pet dander. If you have carpet, it’s best to vacuum regularly. Washing drapery regularly also helps reduce allergens in your home. To reduce allergens in your bedroom, keep pets out and wash bedding in hot water every week. Place mattresses and pillows in dust mite-proof zippered cases.
Fumes from cleaning products can worsen COPD symptoms. Try cleaning your home with non-toxic, simple and fragrance-free cleaning products. For example, try cleaning products such as hydrogen peroxide, warm water with soap and baking soda and vinegar. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lists products that meet its Safer Choice requirements.
If you decide to purify the air in your home, HEPA filters as well as natural air purifiers are good choices. Taking these steps to avoid COPD triggers can help you and your lungs feel better and stay healthier.
For people with COPD, infections and illnesses can be dangerous, even life-threatening, especially if the illness affects the respiratory system. Colds, the flu and pneumonia can cause COPD symptoms to worsen, triggering a COPD flare-up.
The easiest way to avoid COPD triggers such as infections and illnesses is to wash your hands thoroughly and often with soap and warm water. Stay up-to-date on your flu and pneumonia vaccinations as well. You can also reduce your risk of catching an illness by staying hydrated, practicing good hygiene, keeping your home clean and avoiding crowded places and people who are sick.
If you notice a change in your overall health, lung health or COPD symptoms, it’s important to talk to your doctor immediately.
Avoid COPD Triggers and Take Care of You
In addition to these tips to avoid COPD triggers, you can also learn more about your COPD treatment options, such as medications, inhalers, oxygen therapy and stem cell therapy. Traditional treatment options work to manage COPD symptoms, and stem cell therapy works to promote healing from within the lungs, potentially improving lung function and quality of life. If you or someone you love has COPD, emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis or another chronic lung disease and would like to learn more about stem cell treatment options, contact us at (800) 729-3065.