People with COPD often experience flare-ups, which is a time when their symptoms get worse than usual and make the person more prone to infection. During these times, your family member might need to make a trip to a hospital to have ready medical attention. Frequent flare-ups can you are your family member condition to progress faster. Fortunately, it is possible to prevent COPD flare-ups.
What are COPD and COPD flare-ups?
COPD is a deadly condition that can affect both men and women. COPD can increase the risk of other serious lung diseases. That’s why you and your family should have your lungs check up frequently. The most common cause of COPD is smoking. The risk factors of COPD are:
- You are a smoker or former smoker over age 40.
- You have a family history of COPD or alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency.
- You have persistent COPD symptoms.
- You have a history of exposure to secondhand smoke or air pollution or have worked with chemicals or dust that may cause lung damage.
COPD often has flare-ups. You can predict a flare-up to prepare medical attention for your family member. The best way is to call your doctor Some warning signs of COPD flare-up include:
- Wheezing, or more wheezing than what’s normal;
- Coughing more than usual;
- Shortness of breath that is worse than usual;
- An increase in the amount of mucus;
- Change in the color of your mucus to yellow, green, tan, or bloody;
- Shallow or rapid breathing, more than what’s normal for you;
- Confusion or excessive sleepiness;
- Swelling in your feet or ankles.
What are some tips to prevent my family from COPD?
You can prevent COPD flare-ups by having healthy lifestyle habits. Here are some tips that can help you and your family keep your lungs healthy:
Reduce smoking risk
The first tip is, of course, to stop the number cause of COPD. If your family members have never smoke, don’t let them start. If your family member is smoking, they should stop for their health as well as the family’s. Even if you have smoked, stopping can help slow down the progress of COPD and limit lung damage.
Smoking risk also applies to secondhand smoke. According to the World Health Organization, 10 percent of smoking-related deaths are due to secondhand smoke.
Stopping smoking is especially important if you have low levels of the protein alpha-1 antitrypsin (a protein needed to protect the lungs and liver). People who have an alpha-1antitrypsin deficiency may lower their risk for severe COPD if they get regular shots of alpha-1 antitrypsin. Family members of someone with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency should be tested for the condition.
Avoid air pollution
Cooking over an open fire stove or wood stove can increase the risk of COPD and COPD flare-ups. This is especially true for people in rural areas. Other airway irritants (such as air pollution, chemical fumes, and dust) also can make COPD worse, but they are far less important than smoking in causing the disease.
Avoid occupational exposures
Some occupations are exposed to high pollution such as miners and chemical workers. COPD get worse when the patient is exposed to work hazards such as coal dust, chemical fumes, concrete dust, mineral dust, and cotton or grain dust. One study found that occupational exposures may contribute to about 20 percent of COPD cases. You should encourage your family member to talk to the employer or have ways of reducing exposure, for instance, you could tell them to wear a mask while working.
Know your family history
COPD might have a genetic factor that can put your family at higher risk of COPD, especially if someone in your family has COPD already. If there is, you should have the family check for the “COPD gene”. A blood test can tell if you carry the gene.
Get your vaccines
It’s a good idea for your family to get a vaccination against COPD. Common shots are flu shot, pneumonia, and pertussis (also called whooping cough) vaccine.
What other things I can do to prevent my family from COPD?
Beside the mentioned prevention, here are some tips to help your family member avoid COPD flare-ups:
- See the doctor regularly following the scheduled appointment.
- Keep personal hygiene by washing your hands very half an hour or having a hand sanitizer on you.
- Avoid infections by staying away from crowds, especially during cold and flu season.
- Get plenty of sleep. When your body is tired, you are more likely to get sick.
- Drink plenty of water to thin down the mucus in the lungs.
By having a good prevention strategy, you can stop COPD flare-ups in its track. If your family member experience flare-ups too often, you should get to the doctor for immediate attention.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: January 4, 2017 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017
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