Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a group of lung diseases that includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. COPD can block airflow and make it hard for patients to breathe. Symptoms of COPD include shortness of breath and a chronic cough. People with this condition can also have other breathing health issues including asthma or allergies. These respiratory conditions can worsen the symptoms of CPOD.
What Should You Know About Allergies and COPD?
Allergies can elevate the symptoms of COPD. If a patient with COPD has specific allergies such as pet dander or dust, then they may require restrictions in their living environment. If they experience seasonal allergies, then they may have to restrict their time outdoors and consult their doctor about managing both respiratory conditions. An allergist will pinpoint the specific allergens that trigger a reaction and may recommend medications to manage those symptoms.
How Can Allergies Affect COPD?
COPD has already compromised the normal breathing of patients by restricting the airflow to the lungs. The effectiveness of existing treatments for COPD may be reduced when allergies strike. Allergies can further minimize the airflow by causing the airway to become inflamed and narrowed. Excessive mucus production may result aggravating existing COPD symptoms. Patients may experience:
- A hard and persistent cough
- Shortness of breath
- A productive cough with mucus
Can Allergies Make COPD Worse?
Whether a patient experiences allergies to pet dander and dust or to seasonal pollen or mold, the presence of allergens can make CIOPD worse. Patients may experience all of their typical COPD symptoms at a higher level. They may require oxygen treatment more frequently or require more rest due to excessive fatigue. Patients should be mindful of their allergies and how they can affect their COPD.
Link Between Seasonal Allergies and COPD
Many people suffer from seasonal allergies, usually during the spring when pollen counts increase or the fall when decaying plant matter generates more mold spores in the air. Having COPD along with seasonal allergies can make breathing even more difficult and amplify typical symptoms of both respiratory conditions. Many patients with both seasonal allergies and COPD should take necessary precautions to avoid potent allergic reactions.
How Can Medicines for an Allergy Affect COPD?
If you have both allergies and COPD your doctor may recommend medicine to help reduce the severity of symptoms. Medications such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and cetirizine (Zyrtec) are typically used to treat seasonal allergies. They can reduce inflammation in the airway and improve breathing overall. Because allergies are essentially an immune response, these medications are helpful in reducing your body’s immune system from activating the uncomfortable reaction to the presence of allergens.
How Can You Avoid Indoor Allergies?
Some allergies can affect patients all year long. Dust and pet dander are some of the most common indoor allergies. Someone affected by reactions to pet dander, will need to avoid keeping a pet at home. Dust allergies require more thorough house cleaning to prevent the presence of dust. Patients can also use an air purifier to reduce airborne allergens indoors.
How to Avoid and Treat the Complications
Patients with COPD and allergies can avoid flareups by taking the necessary precautions. If they have seasonal allergies, they should be prepared during those seasonal allergy periods to avoid time outdoors. Indoor allergens require minimizing those airborne allergens as much as possible. Working with your doctor is the best place to start to receive helpful medications to manage symptoms effectively.
One of the common treatments for COPD is oxygen therapy. Pure oxygen can help as well to reduce the symptoms of allergies while assisting with breathing for patients with COPD. Patients with both conditions can always rely on their oxygen concentrator for breathing support during seasonal allergy periods. Regular use of oxygen therapy can help alleviate both the symptoms of COPD and the discomfort of allergies.