People affected with COPD find it challenging to cope with. You can only imagine the unpleasant experience they have to pass through every day. But then living with this dreaded condition is not a death sentence as there are several ways to manage the disease which allows you to enjoy life to the fullest.
COPD simply stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. This condition affects the lungs making it difficult for sufferers to breathe. The COPD condition is mainly caused by long-term exposure to dangerous irritants such as air pollution or smoke of cigarettes.
Patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease tend to experience symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. These signs usually worsen during extreme changes in weather conditions.
This article is carefully crafted to help you understand the impact of humidifiers on the health of patients living with COPD. It will also provide other relevant information on how to maintain the condition.
What are the major causes of COPD?
The COPD is much more prevalent among relatives of COPD patients who smoke than unrelated smokers. The differences in genetics make some people’s lungs vulnerable to the effects of tobacco smoke. Deficiency in Alpha 1-antitrypsin leads to a genetic condition that is mainly responsible for about 2% of COPD cases.
In this state, the body does not produce enough protein or alpha 1-antitrypsin. Furthermore, alpha 1-antitrypsin helps to protect the lungs from damage caused by protease enzymes, such as elastase and trypsin, which can be secreted by the inflammatory response to tobacco smoke.
Smoking is the major cause of COPD in most cases. Cigarette smoke constitutes chemicals that cause scarring in the lungs or inflammation and fibrosis, which destroy the elasticity essential for the expansion and contractions of the lungs as we breathe. About 80 to 90% of COPD cases are as a result of smoking.
Exposure to cigarette smoke can be measured in the years of the pack, the average number of packets of cigarettes smoked each day, multiplied by the number of years of smoking. COPD will not develop in all smokers, but non-smokers have at least a 25% risk after 25 years.
- Occupational exposures
Studies have shown that the negative impact of occupational pollutants on the lungs appears to be significantly less important than the effect of cigarette smoking. People who smoke and are equally exposed to harmful dust particles or gases found in crude oil sites, gold mining, coal mining and textile industries are more likely to develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
- Air pollution
Based on research in many countries, It has been found that people living in urban areas are more likely to develop COPD than people living in rural or local areas. Nevertheless, air pollution in big cities can be an essential factor for COPD since it is thought to slow down the average growth rate of the human lungs.
Is Humidifier good for COPD patients?
Yes! because COPD patients are more sensitive to changes in humidity, also they’re more susceptible to asthma attacks. While some of the patients find staying in a warm and dry climate comfortable, others on the hand prefer more humid environments.
Generally, my personal experience and a great deal of research have shown lower levels of humidity are most appropriate for people with COPD. It’s said that the ideal indoor humidity level ranges from 30 to 50 per cent. However, It can prove challenging to maintain humidity levels during the winter periods, particularly in colder regions where heating systems are always in operation.
To reach the optimum level of humidity in the rooms, you can buy a humidifier that works with your central heating unit, or you can also buy an independent group that can effectively humidify one or two rooms. Irrespective of the type of humidifier you buy, it’s only proper to clean and maintain it regularly.
Additionally, always endeavor to follow the instructions of the manual guide as many humidifiers come with air filters that need to be washed or replaced regularly. Furthermore, you should change the home air filters in air conditioning and heating units at once every three months.
Note: to combat the problem of humidity while bathing, ensure to run the exhaust fan in the bathroom and open a window immediately after you shower.
How humidifier is used for the treatment of COPD during winter
Do you know that the temperature of the air can have a dramatic impact on the respiratory health of the COPD afflicted patients? Signs or symptoms of COPD may develop when the air temperature is unusually cold, hot or dry.
When outside in cold climates, it is usually recommended to put on a cold-weather mask or a scarf to keep the air you breathe warm. This encourages more natural breathing for the lungs compared to colder, drier air in typical severe weather-related conditions.
The good news is when you are at home, it is possible to change the temperature and the quality of the air by using humidifiers, thereby eliminating the need to wear a scarf or a mask for cold weather indoors.
Although humidifiers can provide a greater sense of relief for those who have trouble breathing at home during the winter season but the device should be used as directed by doctors and manufacturers. The use of the machine allows patients to cough up phlegm easily and reduce irritation in the nose as a result of supplemental oxygen.
The Features to Consider before buying a COPD Humidifier
1. Mist form
The two primary options to choose from is either the cold and heated mist humidifiers. The cold is regarded as the cool mist, while the heated is better known as the warm humidifiers. Although they both work differently, they are used to raise indoor levels of moisture.
The warm units allow you to feel the warmth while the cold type delivers cool humid air. Although the moisture they generate is different in temperature but by the time it reaches your lower respiratory tract (lungs), the temperature of both is the same.
Just take note that the cool humidity model is noisier and requires regular maintenance than the warm air model.
2. The Coverage Area
The intended area of space should be a determining factor before getting a new humidifier for your home. If you choose a humidifier smaller than the size of your room, then it will result in an inefficient work cycle. Similarly, if you want a more powerful unit for a smaller area, it will over-work while using up much more energy than necessary.
3. Additional Features
Before purchasing a humidifier for COPD patient, ensure to look out for the humidifier that comes with an auto shut off. This feature helps to shut off the machine when the tank level is low. Humidistat is another essential feature of the device that automatically adjusts humidity in the room as the device works ensuring that the correct level is not bridge and it is good for COPD patient to maintain the correct humidity level at all times.
4. Maintain frequent cleaning
Because COPD is a condition that affects the lungs, inhaling polluted air is a pathway for severe lung infections. Molds or bacteria are dangerous to the immune system of the human body. Besides, these harmful agents find a dirty humidifier a happy place to live. Therefore, you should clean the device twice a week, especially if yours is a cool type of mist known to promote bacterial growth.
How to care for humidifiers
It’s expected to follow the instructions on the device manual as well as the doctors’ instructions when using humidifiers to help people with COPD. In fact, 40 percent oft humidity levels are most appropriate for people living with the disease. Hence you must ensure proper maintenance when using the humidifier for COPD patients. Besides, you should change the filters on the air conditioners and heating systems in your home.
This helps to ensure that the increased humidity does lead to a quick growth rate of mold and bacteria on old filters. In as much as moisture is helpful when breathing, excess humidity can be counterproductive. So a useful tip to reduce the levels of humidity when taking your bath is to make use of an exhaust fan and also open up the door of the bathroom to allow the room to air out and release steam.
In conclusion, you should know that the road ahead in treating patients with COPD is tough. However, due to recent discoveries and development in medical science, the condition can be controlled. Besides using a humidifier for the treatment of the disease, maintaining a good diet, avoiding smoking, and exercising consistently can be some of the best decisions COPD patients can make.