|5/11/2013 9:58:00 PM|
COPD sufferers cope with allergy season
|Yavapai Regional Medical Center|
COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is a progressive illness that makes it hard for a person to breathe. For someone with COPD, whose lungs are already compromised, allergies can make things much worse.
COPD is a disease of inflammation, says Jennifer Miller, RRT, respiratory wellness coordinator for Yavapai Regional Medical Center in Prescott.
"When you have COPD, your airway is already irritated, inflamed and sensitive. So when you start getting allergy symptoms as well, it just makes matters worse," she says. "When those infections begin to settle in the chest, it can lead to bronchitis and further worsening of the patient's ability to breathe."
If you begin to show symptoms of allergic reaction, and especially if what you cough up changes color from clear to a yellowish-greenish color, call your doctor. This change in color is usually a sign of infection. It's important to get it under control as quickly as possible so that it doesn't begin to make breathing worse. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics or perhaps a round of steroids to bring the situation under control.
According to Miller, there are many things that COPD sufferers can do to prepare for and avoid the problems this season brings.
"Pollen counts tend to be at their highest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.," She says. "Close your windows during that time. If you like to walk or get outside exercise, do so before or after those hours."
When there are high winds, wearing a mask or scarf over the mouth can make a huge difference in the amount of dust, pollen and other irritants that someone takes in.
Outdoors, pollens get onto a person's clothes or hair. It's best to bathe and wash your hair in the evening before sleep, to keep the pollen out of your bed.
"Using central air conditioning is much better than evaporative coolers as the air from an evaporative unit is less filtered. Changing filters often is also helpful," Miller says.
She also advises using the "recirculate" button on the air conditioner in the car. That way, you are only breathing the air that is already inside the car, rather than bringing in a constant flow of outside air.
Diet can strengthen resistance to allergic reactions. Eating foods rich in vitamins A, C and E is especially helpful in reducing or helping prevent inflammation. Protein, as well, is a good anti-inflammatory although red meats are far less so. Learning what you're allergic to and learning how different foods affect that is a good thing.
"One of the most important indoor problems is mold," Miller says. "Houseplant soil can be a breeding ground for mold as can leaks under sinks or refrigerators. In the spring, its good to try to get crawl spaces under homes as dried out as possible."
There's a wealth of information available out there-online, through your doctor, through nutritionists and allergy specialists. A little learning can mean a lot to your health.
Miller suggests using the website pollen.com which allows you to enter your zip code and get a real-time reading of pollen counts as well as types of pollen and other allergens in your area.
Article Comment Submission Form