Living with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease often means that you need to be more cautious about conditions that could “trigger” your COPD. This could be things as simple as hotter or colder weather, or household concerns like perfumes and cologne. Below are some of the most common causes of COPD flare-ups.¹
Remember, everyone’s COPD symptoms are different, and you should always talk to your doctor about situations to avoid to keep your symptoms in check.
Bacterial or viral infections – Getting sick is widely the most prevalent cause of COPD flare-ups. It is important to wash your hands often and avoid physical contact with sick people.
Tobacco smoke – Exposure to tobacco smoke, secondhand or otherwise, is a large contributor to the exacerbations of COPD symptoms.
Dust² – Dust in the home and outdoors can both contribute to difficulty breathing.
Chemical fumes – If your job involves close contact with dangerous chemical fumes, this could be an explanation for a COPD flare-up.
Pet dander – Certain pets give off more dander than others. Check with your doctor to make sure your furry friends won’t complicate your condition.
Extremes in temperature – Very hot, or very cold climates can put more pressure on your lungs and make breathing harder. Make sure to discuss how temperature could affect your symptoms before spending long amounts of time outside during the summer or winter months.
Pollen – Spring and summer can bring a bloom in plant life, but sometimes this increase in pollen levels in the air can create chances of flare-ups for those with COPD.
Overly dry/humid air² – Much like extremes in temperature, dry or humid air can also be difficult to adjust to if you have COPD.
Air pollution – Outdoor air pollution can be a contributor to your ability to breathe clearly. Your doctor may recommend that you monitor outdoor air pollution levels before spending long amounts of time outside.
High altitudes² – People often report difficulty breathing at first when arriving in parts of the country with higher altitudes relative to where they live. This could be something to consider when travelling.
Strong winds² – Strong winds can at times “take your breath away” and possibly make breathing harder. Keeping up with weather forecasts can be important for those with COPD.
Strong odors – Certain smells or heavy odors, such as perfume or cologne, can make breathing more difficult for those with chronic lung disease.
As mentioned above, triggers are different for everyone and should be discussed with your doctor. It’s important to be cautious and plan ahead to make sure you can breathe safely and optimally.
1. Everyday Health – Accessed 10/9/15.
2. Quality Health – Accessed 10/9/15.