Certain triggers can cause a flare-up of COPD symptoms and greatly impact your quality of life. They can even land you in the hospital. Not everyone, however, will react negatively to the same triggers. Identifying what your specific COPD triggers are plays an important role in better management of the disease.
What Is a COPD Trigger?
A COPD trigger is anything that causes you to have a flare-up, or a worsening, of your COPD symptoms. Triggers can be anything from poor weather conditions to pet dander. What causes one person to have a flare-up may not affect another person in the least.
Common Indoor Triggers
Did you know that indoor air can be even more polluted than outdoor air? The following list includes some common indoor triggers that you may want to add to your personal, COPD trigger list:
- Tobacco, pipe, or cigar smoke
- Smoke from fireplaces or wood stoves
- Perfumes, colognes, hairsprays, lotions or other scented products
- Paint fumes
- Fumes from cooking
- Cleaning products
- Pet hair, pet dander
- Dust, dust mites
- Mold, mildew
- Strong glues or solvents
- Poor ventilation
- Flu, colds, or other types of upper respiratory infections
- Forgetting to take, or running out of, your COPD medications
After you've identified your indoor COPD triggers, you may want to consider the following:
Common Outdoor Triggers
Now, take a look at some common outdoor COPD triggers:
- Outdoor air pollution, or smog
- Exhaust fumes
- Fumes from chemicals in the workplace
- Abrupt weather changes
- High heat or humidity
- Extreme cold
- Gusty winds
- High altitudes
- Cuttings from grass, shrubs or trees
Avoiding COPD Triggers
Identifying your personal COPD triggers is only half the battle. The next step is to learn how to avoid them. Take a look at the following suggestions:
- Monitor weather alerts daily. Stay indoors when air quality is poor. For your convenience, compare prices of personal weather alert systems.
- Maintain adequate ventilation in your home. This can be achieved by opening doors and windows when weather permits or running an air conditioner in fan mode when weather conditions are nasty.
- Use only natural cleaning products as opposed to harsh chemicals when cleaning. Have someone else do the cleaning and stay away from the area being cleaned if harsh chemicals must be used. You may also want to follow these 7 green cleaning tips designed to protect both your health and the environment.
- Use caution in higher altitudes. You may also want to talk to your doctor about using oxygen when traveling to higher elevations.
- Avoid secondhand smoke by not allowing anyone to smoke in your home or anywhere near you. If someone you live with smokes, ask them to smoke outside and change their clothes before they get near you. Even third-hand smoke is unhealthy.
- Ask family members and friends to avoid wearing heavily scented products such as perfumes, colognes or other toiletries when around you.
- Avoid painting indoors. If you can't, stay away from the areas to be painted and ensure adequate ventilation. You may also opt to wear a protective mask.
- Vacuum your carpets and cloth furniture daily. This will cut down on pet dander and dust mites.
- Go to the doctor at the first sign of an upper respiratory infection like a cold, flu, or pneumonia. When you have COPD, it's important to catch infections early as they are the number one cause of a COPD exacerbation.
- Avoid the health hazards of exposure to smoke from your fireplace or wood burning stove. If you can't avoid them in winter, be sure to limit your exposure and properly ventilate your home.