Most basically, COPD is two-sided coin of reduced lung function that is most often typified by chronic inflammation of the airways (chronic bronchitis) which causes overproduction of mucus and subsequent blockage of the airways. The other side of this is the destruction of the alveoli the lungs, emphysema. If you remember your high school biology, alveoli are the tiny little balloons or air sacs where the actual gas exchange (swapping of oxygen and carbon dioxide) takes place. For people coping with COPD, these two things often go hand in hand.
In either condition, the result is "chronic obstruction" which reduces lung capacity. Inflammation and mucus blocks the airways or the alveoli are damaged and cannot function properly, making it increasingly difficult to breathe.
The difficulty in breathing may sound familiar to many of you. If you have asthma or even certain allergies, this is an all too familiar symptom. Another similarity, though, is the root cause. Both asthma and allergies appear to be a mix of genetic and environmental factors where genes predispose you to these conditions, and environmental factors may ultimately trigger them, or at the least, exacerbate them. COPD is most often caused by smoking, but research shows that long term exposure to air pollutants, chemicals and even dust can contribute to this disease.
Unlike asthma or allergies though, COPD is progressive and isn't something that can be cured or outgrown. Unfortunately the best case scenario for people dealing with COPD is to manage and slow the disease as much was possible. This is where an air purifier may help.
In addition to medication, there are a few things that your doctor may prescribe to help people coping with COPD. In more severe cases, oxygen is a route that is often taken. In less advanced stages of the disease, an oxygen concentrator may also be used. In either case these are things are use primarily at night, while you sleep. They increase the percentage of oxygen that is in the air you breathe. Typically oxygen only makes up a small amount of the actual air entering your lungs, but with higher concentrations of oxygen, it becomes easier for people with COPD to breathe. Many times when you first begin using oxygen or a concentrator, you might notice a big difference in how you feel during the day. Getting sufficient oxygen while you sleep is crucial for your health, and many will feel more energetic, less lethargic and better overall when they begin use of oxygen or a concentrator.
Second, doctors often advise you to limit your exposure to pollutants in the air that can aggravate COPD. From dust and pollen to paint fumes and chemical vapors, a wide variety of particulate can inflame airways and worsen breathing conditions. HEPA air purifiers help to reduce these things by filtering out these pollutants, both particulate and chemical vapors. Keeping your house clean and reducing dust are also basic but helpful measures that can help anyone coping with COPD.
COPD is something that personally affects me. My father was diagnosed with COPD less than a year ago. For years he smoked AND struggled with asthma. To make matters worse, he spent a great deal of time working on our family farm, in the dusty hayfields or barn. And on top of all of that, he has worked for nearly two decades at a place where clay dust and silica sand are used prolifically.
A few years back, I got an inexpensive Honeywell air purifier that a customer had returned. My mother placed it in the living room, and ever since dad often spends nights sleeping beside it on the couch. (And no, it's not because he doesn't want to share a bed with my mother. I would think six kids is enough evidence contrary to that! She often works nights, so many times he'll sleep on the couch.) One thing that my dad has told me, is that he generally tends to feel better when he sleeps on the couch. Not only does the Honeywell produce white noise to help him sleep but more importantly, it helps to reduce dust and particulate in the air in the living room.
By no means do I think a HEPA air purifier is a cure, but for many people, they can help with COPD. And truthfully, many of the products we make and offer can help in that regard. The focus of our products is to better control the environment around you. Things like air purifiers and allergy bedding do just that, by filtering our pollutants or keeping them out of the air you breathe in the first place.
For more information on COPD, consult your local physician or you can find a variety of solid information at the Center for Disease Control or National Institute of Health's websites.
Author: K. Gilmore
Balloons make it difficult for me to breathe. If natural rubber is latex, and I have latex sensitivities are latex-free products safe for me to use? - submitted by Latex Allergic
Latex allergy is one of the most severe allergies that can affect people. Some people have allergies to only the latex gloves that used to be very common in medical practices. Unfortunately there are a few people with severe latex allergies that can react to hardened, or cured/ammoniated latex. People with this severe of an allergy have a difficult time with all forms of latex, even the thick processed gloves used for cleaning. If balloons make it difficult for you to breathe, I highly recommend formal evaluation from a local Allergy or Pulmonary specialist to determine if you have brochospasm. I cannot provide more specific recommendations, given the complexity of the issue.
- Dr. Frank
I've smoked for several years now, and have never really thought that I had allergies, but recently I've noticed a little congestion in the morning that goes away pretty quickly. Additionally, I notice that ever since I can remember, I get up and during the first hour, I sneeze like 3-6 times. It's one after another after another, then it's gone. Could that allergies? Or something else? - submitted by Sneezy
First thing, and above all else, you must quit smoking.
Paroxysms of sneezing (the rapid-fire sneezing you are describing) tend to come from a short circuit in the nerves that go to the nose/pharynx. When there is inflammation (yes, it could be from allergies) these nerves are highly excited and can go into a repeat fire process that can last up to several hours. I have seen some people that have even developed neck pain from these. So, to answer your question, many things can cause nasal inflammation, allergies, viruses, particulates......smoke....., and finding out what is causing your inflammation will help you stop sneezing.
- Dr. Frank
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Author: Kevin Gilmore
What could an allergist could do to help me other than confirm what I already know? Specifically, is there any way to desensitize my body's responses to dairy so that I can enjoy products like cheese and ice cream again. - submitted by Milk Allergic
Cow's milk allergy is one of the more difficult allergies to deal with. If you see a board-certified Allergist, they would be able to help define what level of reactivity you have to these food products, and if you may have allergic sensitivity to other foods. In addition, there are many different ways the immune system can react to food protein that produces a rash, and an allergist could help determine whether it is an IgE mediated process or not. Also, an allergist could help define the exact molecule in milk protein that you are reacting to, i.e. alpha-lactalbumin, etc. which could point towards cross-sensitivity to beef, chicken, etc.
We know have several methods of food desensitization, but only for IgE reactions. Cow's milk is one of the foods for which there are established protocols. Not every allergist does food desensitization as it is a very new technique. Some allergists do desensitizations to hen's egg and peanut as well.
- Dr. Frank
Inhalants, such as, perfume, smoke, and chemicals, cause my asthma to get much worse. Are there any treatments that work? Simple avoidance makes me feel like a captive. - submitted by Jan & Larry
There are quite a few people out there that suffer from those types of triggers called "oxidants" and "volatile organic compounds" (VOCs). Oxidants are released when things burn, or by electrical equipment - or when stuff burns, and VOCs are petroleum based molecules which can directly or indirectly activate your body's nerves or allergy receptors. Many people with asthma can identify these things are triggers, and it usually means that their asthma is not well controlled and they have a lot of active inflammation in the lungs. the key to reducing the asthma triggers is to get the active inflammation under control as best you can.
Many products on this website can help you clean the air in your home, I would recommend a system that reduces VOCs as well as the standard smoke and dust.
- Dr. Frank
My nose runs when I am in the parrot room. Is there a test to see if I am allergic to my Umbrella Cockatoo? - submitted by Cockatoo Blues
True bird-feather allergy is quite rare, and most allergists do not have that in their testing equipment. We commonly see people who think they are allergic to feather pillows, and 75% of the time it is actually just dust mite matter that has built up in the pillow. People with true feather allergy tend to be reactive to a cross-reactive allergen (gal d 5) which is chicken serum albumin and report symptoms with ingestion of egg yolk and chicken meat. Even in exotic bird fanciers, the majority of fanciers that report symptoms are actually allergic to feather mites, Diplaegidia columbae, a cousin of the common dust mite.
The cockatoo is of the order Psittaciformes(Parrots) and there is a blood test called a Parrot Feather specific IgE, which can determine if you are allergic to it or not. However if you already know you develop symptoms when you walk into the room, you should think about wearing an N95 mask to protect your nose, mouth, and lungs. Depending on the diet, some bird droppings will release ammonia as a by product of nitrogen metabolism, and this can be seriously irritating to the nose and throat.
- Dr. Frank
Author: Kevin Gilmore