When you have COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), certain things can make your symptoms worse. These are called triggers. Not all people have the same triggers. What may cause symptoms in one person may not be a problem for another person. What are your triggers and how do they affect you?

What are the triggers?

COPD triggers usually include:
  • Cigarette smoke or air pollution;
  • Illnesses like colds, flu, or pneumonia;
  • Cleaning supplies or other chemicals;
  • Gases, particles, or fumes from wood or home heaters.
Triggers can make it harder for your lungs to work as they can lead to difficulty breathing and other symptoms. When you are around a trigger, a COPD flare-up is more likely. If your symptoms are severe, you may need emergency treatment or have to go to the hospital for treatment.
If you know what your triggers are and can avoid them, you can reduce flare-ups frequency and COPD effects. It’s also important to be active and to take your daily medicines as prescribed. This helps prevent flare-ups too.

What can I do to avoid triggers?

The first thing is to know your triggers.
When you are experiencing symptoms, note the things around you that might cause them. Then look for patterns in what may be triggering your symptoms. When you have your list of possible triggers, work with your doctor to find ways to avoid them.
Here are some ways to avoid common triggers.
  • Do not smoke or allow others to smoke around you. If you need help on quitting smoking, talk to your doctor about giving-up programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.
  • If there is a lot of pollution, pollen, or dust outdoor, stay at home and keep your windows closed. Use an air conditioner or air filter in your home. Check your local weather report or newspaper for air quality and pollen reports.
  • Have influenza (flu) vaccination every year. Talk to your doctor about getting a pneumococcal shot.
  • Wash your hands often to prevent infections.

How can you manage a flare-up?

Do not panic if you start to have a COPD flare-up. If you have a COPD action plan, follow the plan. In general:
  • Use your inhaler or nebulizer as directed by your doctor. If your symptoms do not get better after taking medicine, have someone take you to the emergency room. Call an ambulance if needed.
  • If your doctor has given you other inhaled medicines or steroid pills, take them as directed.
  • If your doctor has given you a prescription for antibiotics, fill it if you need to. Call your doctor or nurse if you have any concern about the prescription.
Nothing is better than your knowing as much as possible about your disease. It not only helps you self-motivate in your treatment, but also encourages you to help people who have COPD like you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
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