Pet dander is less of a problem for COPD than for asthma, because dander particles are usually too big to penetrate deep into the airways, says Dr. Edelman.
Still, many people with COPD also have allergies, which can exacerbate breathing problems. Dogs, cats, and even birds can be a problem (fish aren’t). If you already have a pet, or you find an animal is necessary for your mental health, make sure you wash your hands after petting, and keep your pet out of the bedroom.
FILTER YOUR AIR
Air filters can cut down dramatically on the fine particles that irritate the lungs. “It’s always better to ventilate through a system that has a filter,” Dr. Edelman says. “You want to filter as many particles as you can.”
Changing filters often will also help keep the air clean. For the dog days of summer, central air-conditioning is best, but even then, filters make it better, Dr. Horovitz says.
CLOSE YOUR WINDOW
Ozone and other forms of air pollution, as well as outdoor allergens and dust, can affect your lungs. This can be especially troublesome if it’s allergy season, if the winds are howling, or if you live in a place (like New York City or New Mexico) prone to dust accumulation.
On high air-pollution days keep the windows closed. You can check air quality throughout the U.S. at AirNow. If you’re cleaning, though, you may want to open a window to clear the air of cleaning chemicals, according to the American Lung Association.
FIGHT MOLD AND MILDEW
Good ventilation systems in both the bedroom and bathroom can cut down on molds, another potential trigger of lung trouble.
And because dust mites like humidity too, you should keep the moisture levels in your home unattractively low, at around 40%, Dr. Edelman says. To do so, consider using a dehumidifier and don’t run a humidifier or vaporizer.
CHECK YOUR STOVE
Like fireplaces, wood-burning stoves can pose problems unless they are completely enclosed and come with a good ventilation system, Dr. Edelman adds.
You can still stay warm and cozy all winter, just do it with old-fashioned radiators or central heating. Even gas stoves can be a problem for those with lung trouble. However, if you have an automatic igniter, it cuts down on the amount of gas that can escape, he says.