People suffering from COPD are vulnerable to many allergens and pollutants. COPD and allergies are something that is not easy to handle together. Since breathing is not easy for someone suffering from COPD they have to take care of themselves from all such allergens and pollutants especially airborne pollutants and allergens.
Though allergies and COPD have no connection medically. However, allergies and pollutants along with COPD can definitely be dangerous for the patient.
All these allergens and pollutants can trigger the symptoms of COPD and make them worse.
Let us first go through with some more information about COPD.
What exactly is COPD?
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease commonly called COPD is a collection of chronic diseases related to the lungs. In this condition, the patient finds it difficult to breathe.
There is no permanent cure for COPD but treatment and medication help with the symptoms and can improve the quality of life, increasing life-span.
Many people remain unaware of their condition and get to know only at the later stages due to mild and very common symptoms of COPD at earlier stages. Also, COPD is contagious.
What causes COPD?
COPD is majorly caused by breathing something which is not fresh and clean air and can damage your lungs. Some of the major causes of COPD are:
- Cigarette smoking is the biggest cause of COPD. Most chain smokers suffer from COPD. any type of smoking, cigarette smoke, cigar smoke, pipe smoke, and secondhand smoke can cause COPD. Exposure to second-hand smoking for a long time can also be dangerous. Have a look at this article about how smoking affects us.
- Patients with asthma are at higher risk of getting COPD. Thus, people with asthma and smoke are more vulnerable to diseases.
- Family history with COPD
- You have asthma or any such respiratory diseases
- Exposure to chemicals and fumes in the workplace, air pollution, dusty surroundings, poor ventilation at homes which makes people breathe fumes from cooking and heat are also some of the causes of COPD.
- Due to the deficiency of a protein called alpha-1-antitrypsin. Deficiency of it causes deterioration of the lungs and also affects the lungs.
Symptoms of COPD are mild in the beginning starting with short breath but with time they grow turning into major difficulty in breathing.
- Shortness of breath, especially after any sort of physical activity
- Mild and frequent cough
- The need to frequently clearing your throat
These are the early symptoms of COPD, which go worse by time if left untreated. These early symptoms are often mistaken as common cough and cold.
Major or more worsen symptoms are:
- Shortness of breath even walking or mild physical activities
- Chronic cough with or without mucus
- Need to clear mucus every day
- Trouble catching the breath and cannot talk
- Feeling tired easily
- Many other lung-related diseases such as flu and other respiratory infections
- The tightness and pain in the chest
- Weight loss
- Swelling of feet and ankles
- You have bluish lips and nails as a result of less oxygen reaching to our heart
- Difficulty in processing with the brain, feeling faint
- You feel your heartbeat increasing
Check with the symptoms for COPD as soon as possible and don’t ignore it. If you observe any of the above symptoms consult your doctor immediately. COPD is a chronic condition if ignored then it can be fatal to one’s life
COPD and allergies
It is very important to keep your allergy under control if you are suffering from COPD.
“When a COPD patient has an allergy, the [immune system] reaction takes place in the upper respiratory system and lungs, creating more mucus,” says Michael Foggs, MD, former president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, and chief of Allergy and Immunology for Advocate Medical Group in Chicago.
Thus it is very important to avoid all the possibilities to come in contact with any type of allergens or pollutants.
Some ways to keep your allergy under control are:
- Get tested for allergies
- Limit exposure to pollutants and irritants. These pollutants are smoke, pollen, dust mites, animal dander, chemical fumes, scented products, etc. avoid all these. You can avoid them limiting your time outdoor time
- Keep your surroundings clean to avoid any sort of dust
- Take prevention from your allergies before it starts (seasonal allergies)
As mentioned earlier, there is no permanent cure for COPD. However, proper and early detection of the disease can be a great help to improve the symptoms.
- First and foremost: if you have COPD and you still are not getting rid of your habit of smoking. It is high time! You have to STOP smoking. Smoking is the silent killer for your lungs.
- Medications: at earlier stages medicines and certain drugs can be a great relief to the patient. Anti-inflammatory drugs, Quick-relief drugs, control drugs, long term antibiotics all such medicines help to open up airways so that oxygen can reach up to your heart, reduce swelling, and reduce lung inflammation. Bronchodilators are one such medicine that helps in opening the airways for the oxygen and make breathing easier.they are usually taken through nebulizers
- The yearly flu shot, pneumococcal vaccine, and a tetanus booster also helps in chronic cases and gives relief to patients by making breathing easy for them.
- Oxygen therapy: supplementation of oxygen through a mask or nasal cannula to provide you extra oxygen, making breathing easier.
- Surgery: it is considered to be the very last option when all other treatments do not work. Bullectomy is one such surgery in which surgeons remove large air spaces from your lungs to help you breathe.
- Lung transplantation: in severe cases, doctors often suggest lung transplant
Apart from all these treatments, there is something you can do at home by making some changes in your lifestyle.
How to avoid internal allergens?
Having COPD and allergies is like getting problems from both sides. Here are some easy tips to avoid internal allergens:
- Plan your diet and exercise routine after consulting with your doctor. Maintain a healthy diet.
- Do not go to places where you can be exposed to pollution, fumes, and allergens.
- Avoid cold air and extremely hot weather conditions
- Again, quit smoking. You can help yourself by getting enrolled to quit smoking programs.
- If your allergies are seasonal, start taking precautions and meds before it gets worse.
- Try to remain indoors.
- Keep your surrounding allergens free. keep your home clean. Install the air cleaner, keep windows clean, vacuum clean it once a week, these are some ways to keep your home dust-free.
- Install a cabin air filter for your car.
Since COPD has no cure these changes can definitely help you to lead a much better lifestyle.