Living with COPD: What to Do to Avoid the Risks at Home


COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is a progressive illness that affects the respiratory system, particularly the lungs. While women can also have it, it was known as a man’s disease because more men were diagnosed with it than women.

The primary cause of COPD is exposure to cigarette smoking. According to the American Lung Association, approximately 85 to 90 percent of patients who have COPD had a history of smoking.

COPD can block airflow and cause breathing problems. About 16 million Americans who have been diagnosed with the disease experience difficulty breathing. Millions more are yet to find out that they have the disease and are not receiving treatment.

People with COPD can ease their symptoms by taking medications and making healthy lifestyle changes that include eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and quitting vices, particularly smoking. Moreover, they should avoid triggers that can aggravate symptoms inside the house.

Here are a few things to avoid to manage COPD.

Car Fumes

Car fumes can trigger symptoms of respiratory illnesses, including COPD. Those diagnosed with the disease are advised to stay indoors and keep the windows closed if the air quality outdoors is terrible. However, sometimes, car fumes can still enter the house and expose residents to particulates.

Households that have an attached garage are particularly at risk. Fumes from vehicles, mowers, paint, and other substances can enter the house through open doors, gaps around closed doors, ducts, and wall or ceiling openings. A previous study found the presence of benzene, a pollutant associated with gasoline and other fuels, inside houses that have attached garages.

Experts recommend sealing any space where fumes can enter the house from the garage. Better yet, park the car outside rather than in the garage as often as possible.

coughing from smoking

Dust and Dirt from Carpeting

Doctors may advise patients who are living with the disease to ditch the carpeting for hard floors. It is easier to clean vinyl, marble, wood, or ceramic tile floors because all you need to do is wipe it with a mop or a vacuum cleaner. On the other hand, carpets can trap dust and dirt, which can exacerbate COPD.

However, if ripping the carpet off is not an option, or you like the look of the rug in your home, the next best thing is to keep your carpet clean. You will need to vacuum it regularly, particularly with one that uses a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter and then steam-cleaning it to remove allergens that may have accumulated within its threads. If you cannot do it yourself, consider opting for carpet cleaning services.

Spray Cleaners and Fragrances

Household cleaning products and perfume smell good, but they are not suitable for people living with COPD.

Common spray cleaners contribute to indoor air pollution and, if inhaled, can lead to irritation of the airways. These products release dangerous chemicals into the indoor air, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs contribute to the occurrence of chronic respiratory problems, allergic reactions, and headaches.

When using spray cleaners, limit it to once a week and open the windows to keep the indoor air fresh. Better yet, use simple cleaning products such as vinegar and water.

People with COPD are also quite sensitive to perfumes. Others may be unaffected by scents, but if a hint of fragrance causes difficulty breathing, it is best to remove every product inside the house that can worsen symptoms. Candles, air fresheners, dryer sheets, and others need to go.

Changes in Humidity

Whether it is too humid or not humid enough, the amount of water vapour in the air can cause COPD flare-up. If the humidity is too high, the air feels dense and thick. It can make breathing harder for people. If the humidity is too low, the air is dry, which will irritate the throat and the sinuses. Both extremes are bad for people with COPD.

Keep the humidity at home 30 percent to 50 percent to prevent worsening respiratory symptoms. Invest in a home humidity monitoring device to ensure that the moisture in the air is at the ideal level. If it is too high, a dehumidifier will remove excess water vapour. If it is too low, a humidifier will inject moisture back to the air.

COPD ;is a long-term illness and, therefore, requires long-term care. Those diagnosed can manage their symptoms by being aware of the triggers that can cause flare-ups and avoiding them. Moreover, taking medication and therapy as advised by a medical professional, eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and quitting smoking will slow down the progression of the disease.

Scroll to Top