COPD and Its Triggers
Last updated: February 2022
COPD stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Falling under COPD is emphysema, chronic bronchitis and Alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency, which is the genetic form of COPD. This lung disease is the third leading cause of death. A worsening of symptoms or a “flare up” is called an exacerbation. An Exacerbation is actually a worsening of symptoms. You might have more difficulty breathing, more wheezing, you may be running a temperature, or you may be feeling more fatigued (tired).
Triggers and exacerbations
Often, something triggers an exacerbation. And that’s what we are going to talk about here. COPD and it’s triggers.
Each of us might have something different that triggers an exacerbation. However, many struggle with similar triggers. Here is a list of triggers. Can you relate to any of them? Some can affect me a time or two, then miss the next several times. Some might just knock me down. Some might come from inhaled products. Whether it’s smoked and inhaled directly or if it’s second hand smoke, where you breathe in something that someone else is smoking. Your reactions may be severe or mild. If one of these triggers a reaction, or if something else does and you feel or even think you are having severe reactions, don’t hesitate to see your doctor or go to the Emergency Room.
What can trigger COPD symptoms?
- Smoke from Cigarettes, cigars, pipes, marijuana, or any other type of product that you or someone else is smoking, this smoke that you or others may be inhaling by smoking or even by second hand smoke.
- Fireplaces, firepits or bonfires: Directly or from a person’s clothes.
- Bleach or other caustic items
- Laundry soap or dryer sheets. Some are very strongly scented. I can even smell them when the neighbors do laundry as it comes out their vent.
- Chemicals in pool supplies
- Dander from cats, dogs and other furry or feathered animals or birds.
- Hair salon: Scented products, such as shampoos, hair spray, colognes and other products used in the salon, worn or sold.
- Nail salon: Scented products used for Mani/Pedi’s. These are used to treat, polish, and sell fingernails and toenails.
- The smell of blood from meat
- The smell of oil cooking
- The smell of candles, burning or not
- Air fresheners
- Flowers, fragrant trees and bushes
- More: Can you think of other triggers?
Consider these questions around triggers
Q: What can these triggers cause?
A: Some of these can irritate your lungs, cause you to cough and maybe even cough things up. Some can cause nausea or vomiting. Some can burn your lungs.
Q: What do you do if you have contact with someone who has something that triggers your COPD?
A: Stay back, tell them hello and excuse yourself. You can let the person know that her scented products do affect you. Let her know that you do so enjoy her company, but you can’t be around the scents because you are having a reaction. Call her in a day or two and continue your friendship that way, or visit her online.
Q: What if you are invited to a party and don’t feel up to going?
A: Tell the person who invited you that you aren’t feeling well, and that you would love to hear about it later. Tell them to share photos, if you would like to see them.
Q: What do you do if you feel coughing and congested?
A: Do you use a nebulizer? If your doctor has you set up to use this if you need, go ahead. Then, do check with your doctor.
Q: What if you can’t breathe?
A: Do you have a rescue inhaler? Use that right away. Then call or doctor or go to the E.D.
Q: What if you have a burning in your lungs?
A: Go to the emergency room.
It isn’t selfish to think of yourself first. Remember, your doctor should be your biggest ally, so when you are feeling sick, he/she should be the first one to call. Remember too, your friends on Facebook or even in support groups can offer their best advice as it would pertain to them. You are unique in your own disease and the only one who knows your history, medications, and overall health is your doctor. Don’t go to Facebook for advice when you are in crisis, call your doctor first, or go directly to the Emergency Department.
I hope you are having a breathe easy day/night.
Where do you stand with your COPD?