Patients with COPD are susceptible to many situations that can rapidly lead to an acute worsening of their chronic disease. COPD exacerbations are very common, affecting about 20% of patients with moderate-to-severe COPD.
Knowledge of these particular causes that increase chances for flare-ups are essential for prevention across all COPD severities.
1. Do not stop your medications:
• Beta 2 antagonists,
• Phosphodiesterase-4 (PDE-4) inhibitors,
• Leukotriene receptor antagonists,
2. Do not smoke, vape, or be around people who do.
3. Limit Exposure to common allergens
• Dust mites,
• Animal dander
• Chemical vapors from strong cleaning products
Paint thinners, tar, ammonia, fertilizers, formaldehyde in insecticides, and human-made fibers or printed materials are particularly bad for those with COPD
• Use vinegar and water and baking soda to clean surfaces and floors
• Stay indoors when smog and pollution alerts are high
Vacuum and dust with non-toxic cleaners, including furniture, air conditioning/heating filters, blinds, lampshades, floors, curtains. Change to hardware floors if possible because carpet is hard to keep clean, and dirt and debris get caught in the fibers. If unable to remove carpeting, have it shampooed frequently.
Use synthetic bed clothing that is anti-allergenic. Change them weekly and wash them in hot water. Avoid dryer sheets with chemicals on them. Consider non-chemical alternatives.
Room temperature also plays a role in the accumulation of bacteria, viruses, and allergens. Ideally, your home should be kept between 64-68 degrees to reduce mold.
Mold likes warmth and moisture. However, too dry of air can promote viral spread because humid air coats viruses so that they are not airborne and drop to the ground. This is one reason why people may be prone to colds and the flu in the wintertime: one because of dry indoor air and the other because more time is spent indoors with other people.
A cool water humidifier and HEPA filters are great ways to accomplish your goals of preventing mold, mildew, dander, and antimicrobial spread. Air conditioning is a must.
• Himalayan salt lamps release negative ions that attract pollutants in the air.
• Beeswax candles do not emit smoke or soot and act to neutralize toxic chemicals
• Peace Lily is recognized by NASA because of its ability to neutralize many toxic airborne chemicals and release oxygen
• Bamboo charcoal is packaged in a linen bag and can absorb unpleasant odors, remove bacteria, viruses, harmful pollutants and allergens, and dehumidify the air. It can be rejuvenated by placing it in sunlight once a month
Other household plants help purify the air by releasing oxygen, but their soil can harbor mold. Consider using moisture-holding beads to release water gradually.
4. Practice Good Hygiene
Frequent hand washing and using alcohol-based hand sanitizers can reduce the chance of acquiring a cold, flu, or pneumonia. Do not touch the nose, mouth, or eyes because that is how microorganisms get transmitted. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze and do not be exposed to ill people.
Get vaccinated against influenza and pneumonia if your doctor recommends it.
5. Exercise and Dietary Practices
Nutrients such as Vitamins A, C, E, and potassium, zinc, magnesium, and selenium are good for preventing respiratory infections and helping the immune system. Drink plenty of water to promote a good blood flow to keep lung tissue healthy.
Exercise helps strengthen the rib muscles and ligaments, both essential when times are tough for those with COPD. Deep breathing expands the small air sacs so they can exchange more oxygen for carbon dioxide.