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Steps to Managing Outdoor Triggers for COPD Patients

Posted Jan 11 2010 9:17am

To Avoid Breathing Difficulties, Learn to Manage Your Response to Weather Conditions

Most COPD patients learn to recognize the environmental conditions that trigger breathing difficulties. Two of the most common environmental triggers are the weather and air pollution. You can learn to adjust your schedule and how you prepare for the weather if you need to be out of your home.


People with COPD may have reactions to changes in the weather, and these reactions are quite individual. Some have more trouble with cold weather, others with warm. Some may prefer some humidity in the air, others need dry air. Often the best approach when faced with extreme cold or high levels of pollution is to stay at home if possible.

In most cases, breathing cold air causes the most difficulty for people with COPD, because it narrows their airways and restricts air flow into the lungs.

¨ In colder weather, wear a scarf over your mouth and nose, or pull a turtleneck over your nose.

¨ Wear a cold-weather mask, made of comfortable, soft sponge and available at many drugstores or medical supply stores.

¨ Breathe in through your nose rather than your mouth when you are outdoors. This helps filter, warm, and humidify the air before it enters your lungs.

¨ Use your bronchodilator about 30 minutes before going outside to open up constricted airways.


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