How do Air Pollution Affect COPD Patients?

Topics: COPD, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

As we are progressing towards a modern world where we will possibly witness flying cars and industrial goods flooding the streets one day, we should keep our eyes open to the downsides of modernization as well. One of these is the rising pollution levels. Because of the growing number of industries and cars on the road, air pollution across the globe is increasing.

How do Air Pollution Affect COPD

Air pollution refers to the contamination of air because of the presence of pollutants that can cause harm to the health of humans and other living beings. Mainly, these pollutants damage your well-being by affecting your respiratory organs. As a result, they may put your lungs at risk and cause severe and irreversible harm in the form of  chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma. Both indoor and outdoor pollutants can exacerbate the condition of COPD patients and worsen their health.

In order to find out why air pollution is detrimental to the well-being of COPD patients, read further!

What is COPD? What are its symptoms?

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) refers to a group of lung problems that causes obstructive airflow. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are two common issues that lead to this problem. Its symptoms include breathing difficulty, cough, mucus production, and wheezing. The condition is a result of exposure to irritants that can damage the airways and lungs. These include smoke, dust, fumes, and chemicals.

Why is air pollution harmful to COPD patients?

Long-time exposure is one of the risk factors associated with developing COPD. In patients who are already suffering from this condition, poor quality air can deteriorate lung health. It can cause constant coughing and breathing problems and increase morbidity. Besides, air pollution can also lead to respiratory infections resulting in COPD attacks.

How can indoor pollutants increase the risk for COPD patients?

Many people consider themselves safe inside their homes. But, did you know that the air inside the house can be more harmful than the outside air in some cases? 

Here are some indoor pollutants that may lead to breathing difficulties:

  • Biological Pollutants: The presence of mold, pollen, and pet dander at home can cause breathing problems. Besides, particles from dust mites and cockroaches can also be dangerous. They can trigger allergy and asthma attacks.

  • Radon: A radioactive natural gas may enter your home through cracks and other openings. While the radon levels are more elevated in some regions, they might be well under control in others. Living in such areas can do more good for your health.
  • Second-hand smoke: Hazardous chemicals like formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, and other cancer-causing pollutants may be present in environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). It is a known risk factor for COPD and other respiratory problems.
  • Combustible pollutants: Fireplaces, furnaces, heaters, and water heaters release combustible contaminants in your home. These fuels emit chemicals like carbon monoxide that irritate the lungs.

How outdoor pollution contributes to the risk?

Urban areas featuring a high population, especially the metro cities, are excessively polluted. Ozone and airborne particulate matter are two common pollutants found in the outdoor air at such places. While inhaling them can be dangerous for just about anyone, the risk factor is exceptionally high for the vulnerable sector, including the elderly, children, and people with health conditions like COPD and asthma.

Long-term exposure to outdoor pollutants increases the risk of developing COPD. Also, it has been revealed that over time exposure to particulate matter can make COPD symptoms worse. It can significantly increase the risk of death in patients with COPD.

Tips for dealing with COPD

  • Although there is no cure for COPD, patients with this condition can successfully manage their health by opting for pulmonary rehabilitation. It is a supervised programme that offers classes on workouts, breathing techniques, and health education.
  • Patients with COPD are recommended to use non-invasive ventilation to manage their respiratory process. It administers breathing support through a face mask, helmet, or nasal mask.
  • Smoking is strictly restricted for patients who have COPD. Patients are recommended to join smoking cessation therapy to put a stop to this habit.
  • You need to stay stress-free and practise meditation if you have this health condition. Doing so will ensure that you maintain optimum weight.



Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a severe health condition that can hinder breathing. In addition, inhaling polluted air can cause exacerbation and further degrade the health of COPD patients. Thus, COPD patients are advised to follow the tips mentioned above to live a healthy and happy life.

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