Common COPD ..:TriggersChronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a condition that limits the flow of air into and out of the lungs. Symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing. Certain actions or substances—called triggers—can cause COPD symptoms to suddenly worsen or flare-up. To manage COPD, it’s important avoid or limit exposure to known triggers.

COPD Trigger: Weather:Temperature and weather can cause COPD symptoms to worsen. Cold, dry air or hot air can trigger a flare-up. According to the Canadian Lung Association and studies cited in the European Respiratory Review, extremes in temperature—below freezing and above 90 degrees F—are particularly dangerous. Add in other factors, such as wind and humidity, and the risk of a COPD

Managing Cold Weather:In cold, windy weather, you should cover your nose and mouth while you are outdoors. A painter’s mask or scarf works well, or you can simply cup both hands together and hold them over your nose and mouth. Indoors, the air humidity should ideally be at 40 percent. You can maintain this percentage with a humidifier.

Managing Hot Weather:On extremely hot and humid days, there’s no better way to avoid a COPD flare-up than to simply stay indoors with the air-conditioner on. In fact, it’s really the only way to reduce the risk. Many people who have mid-to late-stage COPD will even move to a part of the country where the weather temperatures are more moderate.

COPD Trigger: Air Pollution: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 spell trouble outdoors. Dust, pollen, pet dander, and chemicals from cleaning products, paint, or textiles can cause flare-ups indoors.

Managing Outdoor Air Pollution:People with COPD can protect themselves from outdoor pollutants much like they do with cold air. A painter’s mask is recommended if you have to be outside. If you do have to be outside, limit your exercise or physical activity. The best way to reduce the risk of a flare-up is to remain indoors, especially when smog or ozone levels are particularly high. Generally, ozone levels are highest between May and September and tend to be higher in the afternoons compared to mornings.

Avoiding Infections:The easiest ways to reduce your risk of infection is to wash your hands often and thoroughly and make sure you stay up to date on the recommended vaccinations (especially flu and pneumonia). Staying hydrated, practicing good hygiene, keeping your home sanitized, and avoiding crowded places or people who are sick are all good ways to reduce your risk of getting sick. If you do get a cold or the flu, it’s important to get treated as soon as possible.

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