8 Christmas COPD Triggers
In order to get the most out of the Christmas season, those of us with lung disorders have to be wary of Christmas asthma triggers. Here are those seven triggers along with some tips to help you get around them.
1. Real Christmas Trees. Christmas trees are a common decoration in homes during the Christmas season. But they may also be filled with unseen substances that can get into the air, such as dust mites, pollen and mold spores. When you carry them into your home, and shake them, these allergens end up in the air of your home for you to inhale, possibly causing flare-ups. While some experts recommend avoiding them altogether, others suggest that rinsing them off with water, and letting them air dry, prior to bringing them into your home should remove most of these allergens. It may be best, however, to delegate this job to someone else.
2. Artificial Christmas Trees. So, if real trees are full of COPD triggers, fake trees should be better, right? Well, experience shows this not to be the case. Artificial trees may be fine the first time you set them up. But after storing them in boxes in closets and basements, they become breeding grounds for dust mites. When you open the box and put the branches on the tree, you’re inadvertently freeing these microscopic critters into the air and inhaling them. The best solution here, other than avoiding them, is to rinse the tree off with water and letting it dry before setting it up. But this job should be delegated to someone other than you. Another solution is to store your tree in an airtight container.
3. Decorations. Dust mites are the culprits here too. Decorations are stored in boxes in closets, attics, and basements. Like fake trees, they become infested with dust mites. One way to avoid this is to store decorations in plastic storage bins to keep dust mites out. Another solution is to let someone else set up the decorations.
4. Visitors. Okay, so the greatest joy of the holiday season is spending time with friends and family. Still, visitors carry germs that can get you sick, and even a common virus (common cold) can cause a flare-up. The greatest culprits here are little children, who love to share their germs through their sniffles and sneezes, but also their hugs and kisses. We certainly recommend spending time with those you love, just make sure they know that their germs might take your breath away. As best you can, try to stay away from sick people. And, no matter who you’re spending time with, just note that the single best method of avoiding the spread of germs is by frequent hand washing with antimicrobial soap or hand sanitizer.
5. House Cleaning. Of course part of the holiday season is getting your home ready for guests. While this may seem like no big deal, chemicals inside some cleaning supplies can act as rather potent COPD triggers. Just make sure you are careful not to use cleaning supplies that may cause problems for you. One solution here is to simply stick with the cleaning solutions you’ve already been using. Or, better yet, let someone else do the cleaning.
6. Scented Candles. Candles and incense can make your home smell good for the holiday season. But it’s also good to remember that strong smells may also act as COPD triggers. Likewise, smoke from candles and incense may also act as triggers. It’s probably best just to avoid them altogether.
7. Wood Fires. A fire in the fireplace can make a home feel very cozy for the holiday season. The problem is that wood smoke in and of itself may trigger flare ups. Also posing a problem is the stack of wood next to the fireplace, which may contain mold spores and pollen. So it’s best to just avoid lighting the fire and keep the logs outside. However, newer fireplaces can be lit by electricity or gas, and these should be fine.
8. Stress. So you’re known for shopping long hours searching for that perfect gift. You’re known for spending hours decorating your home just right, and preparing the perfect meal. These are things that can cause ongoing pressure during the holiday season, causing a rise in hormones that may weaken your immune system and cause flare-ups. The best solution here may be to delegate some of the responsibilities that come with the holiday season to others. And, chances are, they will be more than willing to help you.
Enjoy the holiday season! So long as you are aware of them, these eight potential COPD triggers should not stop you from having a joyous holiday season. Here’s our opportunity to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
John Bottrell is a registered Respiratory Therapist. He wrote for HealthCentral as a health professional for Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).