Creating a COPD-Friendly Home (Part 1)
For sufferers of COPD, the environment in which we live on a daily basis needs to be as pollution-free and breathe-friendly as possible. The home of the average COPD sufferer is a hotbed of triggers and irritants. In order to have better quality of life you must eliminate as many of those irritants and triggers as possible from your daily life.
How to make your home more COPD-friendly
Making your home COPD-friendly is one of the best things you can do in managing your COPD. Making your home COPD friendly will be a lot easier if you live alone than if you live with another person or family. In more than one-member households, arrange a meeting and explain to all involved that you will be altering your living environment and you will need their help in order to be successful, but, don't be surprised if in the beginning your family puts up resistance. Just keep reminding them and yourself that, the better you manage your COPD, not only your life but their lives will also improve.
Avoiding tobacco smoke
Tobacco smoke is one of the worst thing you can have polluting your home air. If you have a smoker in the house they need to start smoking outside, or designate a particular area of your home (this should to be as far away from you as possible) where smoking will be allowed. Remove all ashtrays, lighters, or other smoking paraphernalia from your home. The only exception to this is if you have designated a smoking room allow one ashtray in there, and make it clear that when smoking in that room that door is to be closed, the window open, or be well-ventilated so that the smoke does not drift into your space. You as a COPD sufferer need to lay down the law to those who violate the new rules no matter who they are, your spouse, your children, your son-in-law, daughter-in-law, or any visitors to your home. This may be an inconvenience to your loved ones, but they should be more than willing to accommodate your wishes if it stops your coughing, hacking, wheezing, gasping for breath every day and your frequent ER and hospital visits.
I come from a family of smokers. My brothers smoke, my daughter smokes, my grandchildren smoke, a good portion of my friends smoke. But none of them smoke around me anymore. They all respect my space and understand the effect it has on my COPD. Even when I visit them at their house they will not smoke when I'm around, and they air out the room before I arrive. That was not always the case. At one time I stopped going to some of the their houses and I would not invite them over or into my house due to them polluting my air with their smoke and perfume. (I will write about perfume another day.) The point I'm trying to make is: don't give up trying, no matter how much resistance you get. You need to make your environment smoke-free.
Be mindful of cleaning products
Chemicals and other fume-producing products are another area of your home environment you should clean up. Cleaning products are a major offender when it comes to polluting your home's air. Laundry detergent, fabric softener, window cleaner, toilet and tile cleaner, oven cleaner, furniture and floor wax and most other store-bought cleaners are all products that affects the COPDers breathing. If you want to have a COPD-friendly home, then go natural when it comes to cleaning.
I have gotten rid of most store-bought, chemical-laden cleaning products. I do use mild dishwashing liquids, and laundry detergent - both of these have very little scent. For any other cleaning in my house, I have gone natural. Distilled white vinegar, baking soda, lemon, hydrogen peroxide, various microfiber, borax and salt. There is nothing that cannot be cleaned efficiently with the products I've listed. Like citrus infused vinegar - it works as a window cleaner, for mopping floors, and is great at disinfecting surfaces. If you check the Internet you can find several excellent recipes for natural cleaning products. Natural cleaners are healthier for your COPD and a lot cheaper than most cleaning products you can find in the store. With the improvement you'll have breathing, you'll never go back to using chemical-laden, store-bought products.
Air fresheners and candle use
You can also help improve your home air quality if you stop using air freshener and burning those scented candles. They may make your house smell great, but they aren't good for your lungs. If you must use air freshener try using natural ingredients such as, lemon, lime, orange, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, ginger root, or rosemary. Simmer a quart of water with one or more of the natural ingredients, (experiment until you find the combination you like best), to freshen and clean the air. Or if it's a beautiful day out, open your windows and let in the fresh air to replace the stale air of your home - your lungs will thank you.
HVAC systems and air quality
Your heating and air conditioner ducks shoot out dust into every breath of air you breathe. So it is very important to keep heating and air conditioners ducts clean. They should be vacuumed out yearly and the heating and air conditioning filters changed every month. Doing those two thing is a big help in improving the air quality in your home. Also check out any water pipes entering your house, window air unit, or any damp areas, to make sure they are free from any formation of mold. Mold is not acceptable no matter how small, if its spores become airborne they can turn an otherwise normal day into a trip to the ER or hospital stay, which we all want to avoid. When I tell you to check out these things I'm assuming you will not actually be doing this yourself, but have someone else do it for you. However if you are like me, you just may do it yourself - in which case I advise you to wear a face mask. If any mold is found, call someone and have it removed at once.
Implementing the above measures will help you have a COPD-friendly home where you can: breathe deep and easy.
For more, check out Creating a COPD-Friendly Home (Part 2).
Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to say that on March 2, 2018, Mary Ultes passed away. Mary was an engaged advocate for the COPD community who strived to help people live fulfilling lives. She is deeply missed.
Do you live with any sleep disorders (eg. insomnia, RLS, sleep apnea) in addition to COPD?