We’ve waited all winter for March! At long last, the days are becoming longer and we can start to feel the promise of springtime in the air. For a person with COPD, there is even more cause to celebrate the changing of the seasons. Cold, dry air is among several COPD triggers, and the appearance of warm weather is, quite literally, a breath of fresh air.
What Are Other Causes of COPD Flares to Watch For?
If a person you love struggles with the challenges of COPD, you are all too accustomed with the fatigue, shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing that grow to be part of everyday life. Controlling these symptoms in order to have the best possible quality of life is extremely important, and it starts with understanding the causes of COPD flares.
Alongside cold weather, below are some additional triggers that may exacerbate COPD symptoms and ways in which to conquer them.
- Hot, humid weather. This can be just as difficult for an individual with COPD to deal with as the cold, dry air. A person with COPD should remain inside with air conditioning during the dog days of summer.
- Polluted air. You might automatically think about smog and car exhaust fumes when you imagine air pollution, but this includes many other irritants as well, such as pollen, dust, pet dander, chemicals in cleaning products or paint, perfume, and mold. An air purifier can be helpful, and the home also needs to be regularly dusted and vacuumed. Someone apart from the senior with COPD should manage these tasks, however, such as a caregiver from Morning Glory Home Care.
- Viruses. Something as innocuous as the common cold can be quite risky for a person managing COPD. The best ways to avoid infection includes washing hands frequently, avoiding crowded areas, wearing a face covering, and keeping the home sanitized.
- Smoking. Smoking is something everyone should stay away from, but for a person with COPD, it’s crucial to quit or never pick up this habit. It’s important to stay away from secondhand smoke, too. If the person with COPD cannot quit smoking, see the doctor for helpful recommendations.
What Are Some Ways to Ease COPD Symptoms?
While steering clear of these triggers is a fantastic starting point to make sure someone with COPD can breathe as comfortably as possible, there are multiple breathing exercises that may also be helpful, including:
- Pursed lip breathing. This simple exercise can help people with COPD relax, reduce shortness of breath, and make it easier to breathe. With the mouth closed, breathe in through the nose two counts. Purse the lips, as though you are about to whistle or blow out a candle, and breathe out slowly through the mouth while counting to four. Repeat four to five times daily.
- Deep breathing. Deep breathing helps ease shortness of breath by keeping air from becoming stuck in the lungs. Stand or sit with the elbows slightly back and chest expanded. Breathe in deeply through the nose and hold for a count of five. Breathe out slowly and deeply through the nose until all air is released. Repeat three to four times per day.
- Diaphragmatic breathing. Strengthen the muscles of the abdomen and diaphragm by sitting or lying down and relaxing the shoulders. Place one hand on the stomach and the other on the chest. Inhale through the nose for two seconds. Concentrate on moving the stomach more than the chest. Purse the lips and let out your breath slowly while pushing softly on the stomach. Repeat as able.