Preventing flare-ups of COPD
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) thickens
airways, making it harder to breathe in and get enough oxygen. Damage to the
lungs also makes it harder to exhale and get rid of waste gas (carbon dioxide).
COPD is characterized by flare-ups that rather suddenly make
breathing much more difficult. Often the patient needs to go to the emergency
room. Every flare-up has the potential to make the disease get worse at a
Here’s what you can do to prevent a flare:
Aim for quality air.
- No smoking. If your loved one smokes, he
or she has already been told to quit. Ask visitors and other family members not
to smoke in the house.
- Reduce exposure
to common irritants.
Keep the house well ventilated and free of dust, animal hair, and other
allergens. Strong fumes, such as those in cleansers and paints, should also be
- Limit exposure
to outdoor pollution.
Check for local air quality at epa.gov/airnow. Stay indoors when the pollution
level is high.
Beware of infections.
Any cold or respiratory infection can cause a flare.
- Stay current on
Make sure your relative keeps up with flu and pneumonia vaccines.
- Avoid crowds. During flu season, your
loved one should avoid public places. Ask friends to be mindful of their own
health before visiting.
- Wash hands
Fingers and hands collect bacteria from everything! Have your relative avoid
touching his or her eyes, mouth, and nose. Bring a personal pen for use in
stores, at the doctor’s, etc. Carry hand sanitizer or wipes.
- See the dentist
Good dental hygiene helps protect against infection.
Promote overall health.
Getting adequate sleep is important for a person with COPD. So is getting
enough exercise. Walking is recommended. But talk with the doctor first. There
are special lung-friendly activities designed for persons with COPD.
Frequent ER visits wearing you out?
They may not be completely preventable, but as the Metro DC experts in family caregiving, we at Debra Levy Eldercare Associates can support you in doing what can be done to reduce the likelihood of a COPD dash to the ER. To find out how we can help, give us a call at 301-593-5285. Let’s start the conversation.