Long roll of paper with a long written list on it

Common COPD Triggers

Last updated: March 2019

Triggers are things that cause flare-ups. They are usually things outside your body or the environment around you. Although they can also be things occurring inside your body. Some triggers are common and are shared by many people with COPD. Other triggers are unique to the certain individuals. So, I thought it would be neat to make a list of as many COPD triggers we can think of. So, here we go! See if you can spot any of your triggers from this list.

Do any of these trigger your COPD?

  • Strong emotions, such as laughter
  • Strong emotions, such as sadness or crying
  • Feelings of anxiety or worry
  • Strong smells, such as those in the detergent aisles in stores
  • Strong smells, such as colognes and perfumes
  • Tree pollen
  • Grass pollen
  • Ragweed pollen
  • Other pollen
  • Mold spores
  • Dust
  • Dust mites
  • Too hot (studies show that heat itself can be a COPD trigger)
  • Too cold (it cause air to be too dry and this can irritate airways)
  • Humidity (it causes air to feel heavy and hard to inhale)
  • Hot and humid air, such as during the summer months
  • Gastrointestinal reflux (GERD)
  • First hand tobacco smoke
  • Second hand tobacco smoke
  • Third hand tobacco smoke (tobacco residue left on furniture or clothing)
  • Wood smoke from fireplaces
  • Wood smoke from wood stoves or cooking stoves
  • Wood smoke from fire pits
  • Wood smoke from burning leaves
  • Outdoor air pollution, such as from car exhaust
  • When you over exert yourself or do too much exercise at once (You can learn how best to exercise with COPD when participating in pulmonary rehabilitation)
  • Forgetting to take your medicine
  • Forgetting to wear your oxygen, if you wear oxygen
  • Cleaning sprays and disinfectants (you can make safe cleaning solutions)
  • Hand sanitizers (this is unique to some individuals I’ve met)
  • Respiratory viruses, such as those that cause your common cold
  • Respiratory viruses, such as those that cause influenza
  • Respiratory bacteria, such as those that cause pneumonia
  • Chemicals, dust, or fumes, such as in the air at your work
  • Dust from vacuum cleaners
  • Dust from dirt roads
  • Weather changes, such from clear and sunny to rainy
  • Sudden weather pressure changes
  • Thunder storms
  • Animal dander, such as from cats, dogs, horses, Guinea Pigs, Gerbils, and Hamsters,
  • Scented candles
  • Incense, as they give off strong smells and smoke
  • Fireplaces, and this includes wood smoke and mold on wood stored by them
  • Wood stoves (smoke and mold from wood)
  • Paint fumes
  • Mildew
  • Hairspray
  • Essential oils (some find them helpful, and others find them to be triggers)
  • Kerosene
  • New carpet smell
  • Poor sleep
  • Stress of any sorts, including family stress, stress from the death of a loved one, etc.

What to make of this list of COPD triggers

This is a list of as many COPD triggers that I could think of. I imagine we could make this list twice as long as it is. This is because COPD is a heterogeneous disease, meaning that it affects each person in unique ways. What triggers a flare-up in one person may be harmless to another person. And there are also some triggers that are unique to certain individuals. So, what are your triggers? Do you have triggers that are unique to you? Please share in the comments below.

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