You can do things at home to manage COPD (chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease). By learning the triggers for COPD and avoiding them, you
can help reduce flare-ups. While some triggers may be out of your control,
there are others you can easily avoid.
A trigger is
anything that causes your COPD symptoms to flare up or get worse. Triggers
Not all people have the same triggers. What may cause a
flare-up in one person may not be a problem for another person.
Getting sick with the flu can trigger a flare-up of
Getting sick with colds, the flu, or pneumonia
can cause your COPD symptoms to flare up or get worse.
Flare-ups of COPD symptoms are caused by the same
things for everyone.
Not all people have the same triggers. What may
cause a flare-up in one person may not be a problem for another person.
Continue to Why?
Flare-ups of COPD can greatly limit your activities. You may even need to
stay in the hospital. By avoiding flare-ups, you may feel better, be more
active, and reduce the impact of COPD on your life.
So it is
important to pay attention to your symptoms. You can tell you're having a
flare-up when your usual symptoms suddenly get worse. For example:
With treatment, many people are able to breathe as well as
they did before a flare-up.
Avoiding triggers of a flare-up can help you stay out
of the hospital.
When you have a flare-up, you may need to be
treated in a hospital until you can breathe better on your own. So it's best to
avoid anything that triggers a flare-up.
A fever may be a sign of a COPD
It is important to pay attention to your
symptoms. You can tell you're having a flare-up when your usual symptoms
suddenly get worse. This may include a fever.
Continue to How?
There are many things
you can do to avoid triggers and stay as healthy as you can.
It is okay for me to be around other people who smoke,
as long as I don't smoke.
It is important to stay away from anything that
causes your COPD symptoms to flare up or get worse. This includes staying away
from other people who are smoking.
Getting a flu vaccine can help me avoid one of the
triggers of COPD.
The flu can cause your COPD symptoms to flare
up. Getting a flu vaccine can help you avoid this trigger.
Continue to Where?
Now that you have read this
information, you are ready to start identifying and avoiding triggers for
If you have questions about this information, print it out and take it
with you when you visit your doctor. You may want to use a highlighter to mark
areas or make notes in the margins of pages where you have questions.
Be sure to let your doctor know if you notice changes in your symptoms.
Talk with your doctor about what might be triggers for you. Ask about ways you
can avoid those triggers.
If you would like more information on COPD, the following
resources are available:
This Web site was created by the Tobacco Control Research Branch of
the National Cancer Institute with important contributions from other national
agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and the American Cancer
Society. It offers an online guide to quitting smoking, including online
messaging and telephone support from the National Cancer Institute.
Return to topic:
February 19, 2013
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
& Ken Y. Yoneda, MD - Pulmonology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
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