When should I call my doctor if I have COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and I might have an infection?

Call your doctor if you experience any of the warning signs of an infection. Also call your doctor if you have any symptoms that cause concern.

Avoiding irritants

The lungs of people with COPD are sensitive to certain irritating substances in the air, such as: cigarette smoke, exhaust fumes, strong perfumes, cleaning products, paint/varnish, dust, pollen, pet dander and air pollution. Extreme cold or hot weather conditions can also irritate your lungs.

You can avoid some of these irritants by:

  • Asking those around you not to smoke.
  • Sitting in non-smoking sections of public places.
  • Requesting smoke-free hotel rooms and rental cars.
  • Avoiding underground parking garages.
  • Avoiding high traffic or industrialized areas.
  • Not using perfumes, scented lotions or other highly scented products that may irritate your lungs.
  • Using non-aerosol cleaning or painting products in well-ventilated areas and wearing a mask or handkerchief over your mouth when cleaning (dusting, vacuuming, sweeping) or working in the yard.
  • Reducing exposure to dust by regularly changing filters on heaters and air conditioners and using a dehumidifier.
  • Keeping pets out of the house, especially if you wheeze.
  • Using an exhaust fan when cooking to remove smoke and odors.
  • Staying indoors when the outside air quality is poor and pollen counts are high.
  • Following weather reports and avoiding extreme weather. During cold weather, cover your face when going outdoors. During extreme humidity, try to stay in air conditioned areas.

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