Navigating COPD & Seasonal Allergies

Dive Into the Impacts of Allergies with COPD, Proactive Measures, and When to Speak with Your Doctor

Living with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) presents its own set of challenges, and as we are amidst the warmer months, allergies can exacerbate these difficulties. COPD is characterized by inflamed and thickened lungs, obstructs airflow and makes breathing difficult. Symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, and difficulty breathing can become more pronounced during flare-ups, which, unfortunately, are a part of managing COPD. However, allergies can intensify these flare-ups, making them more frequent and severe over time.

Lesley Williams, a Registered Respiratory Therapist at Apria with 35 years of experience, states, “Navigating COPD and allergies during the spring and summer seasons require diligence and proactive measures. By identifying triggers, minimizing exposure to allergens, and implementing practical strategies, individuals with COPD can better manage their symptoms and enjoy a higher quality of life despite seasonal challenges.”

How Allergies Impact COPD

Understanding how allergies impact COPD is crucial for effective management. Allergens can trigger additional symptoms like runny nose, watery eyes, and sneezing, exacerbating flare-ups. Moreover, allergies contribute to more frequent respiratory infections, as damaged cilia in the airway struggle to clear allergens, leading to a buildup of mucus that traps germs. These infections pose significant risks for individuals with COPD, potentially causing further lung damage and complicating breathing.

Common Allergies That Impact COPD & Proactive Measures

Common allergens that affect COPD sufferers include seasonal triggers like pollen and substances from insects, dust mites, mold, pets, air pollutants, and chemicals found in various products. Coping with allergies while managing COPD requires proactive measures:

  1. Get Tested: Consult your doctor to identify specific allergens triggering your flare-ups. Understanding your allergies allows for targeted management strategies.
  2. Monitor Pollen Levels: Track pollen counts and minimize outdoor exposure during peak pollen times to reduce allergen exposure.
  3. Maintain a Clean Environment: Keep your living space tidy and clutter-free to minimize dust and mold, common irritants for COPD patients.
  4. Practice Good Hygiene: Regular handwashing helps prevent the spread of allergens and respiratory infections.
  5. Invest in an Air Purifier: Purifying indoor air can reduce the presence of particles that may irritate your lungs, improving indoor air quality.
  6. Shower After Outdoor Activities: Wash away potential allergens by taking a hot shower upon returning home, removing any particles that may have clung to your clothes or body.
  7. Avoid Irritants: Refrain from using scented candles, room fresheners, or fireplaces (for later on in the cold months) as these can aggravate COPD symptoms.
  8. Eliminate Smoking: Steer clear of smoking and secondhand smoke, as they can significantly worsen COPD symptoms and exacerbate allergies.

When To Speak To a Doctor

Regular communication with your healthcare provider is essential, especially if you notice increased flareup frequency or severity. Your doctor can help pinpoint triggers and develop a personalized management plan tailored to your needs.

By proactively identifying triggers, minimizing exposure to allergens, and implementing practical strategies, individuals with COPD can better manage their symptoms and enjoy a higher quality of life despite seasonal challenges. If you suspect allergies are worsening your COPD symptoms, don't hesitate to seek medical advice for appropriate guidance and support.


COPD and Allergies: Effects, Medications, and More.” Medical News Today. Accessed April 24, 2024. 
Jackson, Eric. “COPD and Allergies.” UMMS Health, June 2, 2022. 
Jin, Jian-Min, and Yong-Chang Sun. “Allergy and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, September 5, 2017. 
Millard, Elizabeth. “How Do Allergies Affect COPD?” Health Central, September 11, 2023. 

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Lesley Williams

Lesley has been a Registered Respiratory Therapist for 35 years. In her role here at Apria, Lesley trains clinical staff with new equipment and supports clinical program initiatives in the Southeastern United States. In her free time you can find Lesley spending time with her kids and grandkids, or out enjoying the sun on her boat.

About the AuthorLesley Williams