If you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), you are probably aware that smoking can make your condition worse and may have even been the cause of your disease. But did you know that there are other dangers in your home that can make your symptoms and disease worse? Carpets, air ducts, chemicals, and fireplaces are just a few of these in-home threats. (1) Some of these culprits are part of your home and everyday living.
Carpets and air ducts for heating and cooling systems may contain dust and dirt that make you feel worse. If your home has air ducts, have them cleaned regularly to avoid them blowing dust and dirt into your home. If you can, get rid of rugs and carpets, as they trap dust and dirt. If you cannot get rid of your carpets and rugs, have everyone leave their shoes at the door to avoid tracking dirt around the house. Also, have someone without COPD vacuum regularly. (1)
We all want our homes to be clean. And to do so, we use cleaning products, which may also make COPD worse. Any cleaning product or other product that gives off fumes can make a person with COPD have more difficulty breathing. Look for “green” cleaners made from plants that are not irritating to humans, or “old-fashioned cleaning agents like soap and water, baking soda, and vinegar.” (1) Be aware of other items in your home that give off fumes, such as perfumes, scented soap and clothes that have recently been dry-cleaned.
Many people who have COPD use oxygen therapy. If you are using a nasal canula with your oxygen therapy, make sure you clean it at least once or twice a week. (2) There are prongs as part of the canula; replace these every two to four weeks. If you have a cold or flu, replace the prongs as soon as your symptoms disappear.
A few other areas in your home can cause problems, as well. Fire places or wood stoves produce a lot of dust. Showers or basements that are left damp can cause bacteria and mold to grow. (1) Pets bring in dirt and produce dander that can affect people with COPD.
Be aware of what triggers worse symptoms in you. Most indoor threats to people with COPD can be minimized with regular cleaning. Just be careful with what you use to clean your home.
Laurie M. DeChello, MPH, CPH
ASP does not provide medical advice. If you have questions about your illness or treatment, please contact your doctor.
1. Freeman, D. Household Hazards for People with COPD. [Online] 2009. http://www.webmd.com/lung/copd/living-with-copd-10/hazards-home.
2. Healthwise. How to use oxygen therapy. [Online] 2010. http://www.webmd.com/lung/using-oxygen-at-home.