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Health Education Blog

Why You Should Care About Air Quality if You Have COPD

Posted by Staff on September 25, 2017

woman looking out windowChronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a term that is used to describe progressive lung diseases including: Emphysema, chronic bronchitis, non-reversible asthma, and certain forms of bronchitis. Learn why it's important to pay attention to the air quality each day if you suffer from COPD.

According to the COPD Foundation, COPD causes increased breathlessness, which many people mistake for being out of shape or as a normal part of aging. Many people who have COPD can have it for years without developing any symptoms. As the disease progresses, you'll start to develop symptoms. 

What Are The Symptoms of COPD?

Many people who have COPD often don't find out for some time, because the symptoms can mimic a cold. The most common symptoms include:

  • Increasing breathlessness

  • A productive or an unproductive cough

  • Wheezing

  • Tightening in the chest

The inability to breathe properly can be very scary. This is why it's so important to know the symptoms of COPD and see a doctor if you suspect that you're suffering from this condition.

What Causes COPD?

According to WebMD, there are currently 30 million people in the United States who are suffering from COPD. There are a few causes and risk factors that have caused these individuals to develop the condition.

  • Smoking: Smokers are at high risk of developing COPD. Even if you don't smoke, you can get COPD from the people around you via second-hand smoke.

  • Harmful pollutants in the workplace: If you work in an environment where you're exposed to harmful pollutants such as dust, fumes, and certain chemicals, you are at risk of developing COPD.

  • Genetic factors: There are people who have never smoked, never been around second-hand smoke, and who never worked around harmful pollutants and they still have developed COPD. In cases like this, doctors believe that it's genetics that caused the disease.

Why Should You Care About Air Quality If You Have COPD?

Since it's poor air quality that may have caused you to develop COPD in the first place, it can continue to cause damage by making it difficult for you to breathe and worsening your symptoms.

Regardless of the stage of your COPD or its severity, you need to prevent a flare-up, which can make you feel worse and worsen your condition. To avoid flare-ups, you should avoid the following triggers:

  • Dust

  • Chemicasl from household cleaners

  • Cigarette smoke

  • Air pollution

The Weather Can Trigger a Severe COPD Flare-Up

It's more than just pollution and other man-made triggers that can result in a COPD flare-up. Just walking outside and breathing at the wrong time can result in a flare-up. If you suffer from COPD, it's best to plan your outdoor activities accordingly.

  • Extremely cold weather: When cold air enters your lungs, it can worsen your COPD symptoms. If you must go out in the cold, you should cover your mouth with a scarf and breathe in through your nose first. This will allow the air to warm up before it gets into your lungs.

  • High ozone levels: When ozone levels are high during the summer, it can be bad for your condition. High ozone levels are signs that the pollution levels in the air are at their highest. If the air quality index is 50 or less, it is the ideal condition for you to go outdoors. Since the ozone levels are at their lowest in the morning, you should plan your activities then. Luckily, the morning weather reports will let you know what the air quality index will be for that day.

  • High humidity: Humidity in the air is a trigger for a COPD flare-up. High humidity days occur most often during the summer. If you suffer from COPD, the best type of air for you to breathe is dry and mild. The optimal humidity level for your condition is about 40 percent. Anything higher can make you feel worse. On high humidity days, you should stay indoors if possible. Since it can be difficult to control the humidity levels in your home, you should have a humidity control what works with your home's central unit.

You can control your exposure to the things that you breathe in, which makes it easy to control your condition. Unfortunately, you cannot control the weather and the ozone levels, therefore, you would need to work around the weather.

If you have questions about triggers or if you are experiencing a flare-up, you should visit Orchard Hospital's Medical Specialy Center - Your Everyday Health Care Clinic.

The outpatient AIRE Program (Accessible Intervention and Respiratory Education) at Orchard Hospital is designed to help you gain knowledge of your lung disease, manage your breathing problems and improve your exercise tolerance. In turn, this will help you to achieve your optimal ability to carry out activities of daily living, regain independence and improve your overall quality of life.

Schedule an Appointment Today!

Since COPD can affect your ability to breathe, it is important that you understand your disease and you avoid all of the triggers in the air.  

Our mission at Orchard Hospital is to provide our community with superior healthcare. We strive to ensure that your experience at Orchard Hospital is as pleasant and comfortable as possible. Our priority is to provide you with the care you need when you need it, with skill, compassion, and respect.

Topics: COPD

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