Top Five COPD Triggers (and How to Avoid Them)

COPD-diseasesWhen you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), exposure to certain lung irritants can mean the difference between huffing and puffing and easier breathing.  COPD limits the flow of air into and out of your lungs.  The biggest COPD trigger by far — in terms of the onset of the condition and managing it down the road — is smoking. But beyond this obvious culprit, there are many other lung irritants that can trigger or even worsen your COPD symptoms. Avoiding them should be a top priority in your efforts to stay healthy with COPD.

Eliminate Tobacco Smoke – The dangers of smoking are widely researched and documented.  Up to 90 percent of COPD cases are tied to smoking. So one of the best ways to prevent COPD, as well as keep it from getting worse, is to steer clear of cigarettes.  This also includes secondhand smoke.  Cigarette smoke contains tar and many toxic chemicals that irritate the lungs. It also causes oxidative stress, which stimulates inflammation and in the airways.  Avoid cigarette smoke at all cost.  If you haven’t quit smoking yet, get help, so you can achieve this essential goal.

Weather – COPD symptoms often get worse when it’s very hot and humid or, for some, bitterly cold outside. You can’t control the weather, but you can modify your home environment.  Studies have shown that extremes in temperature – below freezing and above 90 degrees – are particularly dangerous.  Wind and humidity can also contribute to an increase in COPD symptoms.  In cold, winter weather, cover your mouth and nose with a scarf.  In excessively hot weather, the best advice is to stay indoors and keep cool.

Air Pollution Inside and Out – Whether it’s indoors or outside, air pollution can irritate the lungs and cause COPD symptoms to suddenly arise.  Dust, pollen, ozone, and smog all cause trouble outdoors.  Dust, pollen, pet dander, and chemicals from cleaning products, paint, or textiles can cause flare-ups indoors. According to the World Health Organization, more than 1 million people each year die from COPD that develops as a result of indoor air pollution.  While primarily an issue for people in developing countries, these lung irritants should be avoided in general to help prevent COPD.  Consider using an air purifier inside and wearing a painter’s mask outside, especially during peak pollen season.

Bacterial and Viral Respiratory Infections – Infections that affect the lungs and airways are dangerous for COPD sufferers.  The common cold and flu can exacerbate COPD symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing, and short breath.  If not treated properly, they could also lead to pneumonia, which can be life threatening.  To manage COPD, annual flu and pneumonia vaccines are essential.  You can also minimize your risk of infections by following good hand-washing hygiene and steering clear of situations where you’re more likely to be exposed to illnesses.

Avoid Stress – Stress can impair even your best efforts at COPD management by dampening the immune system and leaving you more vulnerable to infections that can worsen your symptoms.  Stress can even enhance the sensation of shortness of breath in people with COPD.  Studies have shown that former smokers are more likely to turn back to cigarettes when they’re stressed, further worsening COPD. Make stress relief part of your daily plan.  CalMax from Dr. Newton’s Naturals is a great way to combat the stress in your life.  Plus studies have shown that people with COPD are often deficient in vitamin C.  CalMax is a high-quality, drinkable supplement with calcium, magnesium, and vitamin C to help your body manage daily stress.