Patients with asthma are well aware of the effects indoor allergens may have on their symptoms. One of the questions recently investigated was whether or not indoor air quality has an effect on patients with COPD.
At this time of the year here in the mid-Atlantic region we are beginning to spend more time indoors and to close up our windows and outside ventilation. This change in our daily exposure to the various components of indoor air appears to have a significant influence on patients not just with asthma but also COPD.
Two recent studies shed some light on the effect indoor air has on COPD exacerbations. In one study after ruling out asthma/COPD overlaps it was observed that exposure to dust mite, pet dander and cockroach allergens were the most common allergens associated with COPD exacerbations. The second study looked at the use of air filters in the home, particularly ones that contained HEPA and carbon filters to remove particulate matter and nitrous oxide. The use of these filters seemed to reduce the incidence of exacerbations and lowered the use of rescue medication.
As we move into colder weather and begin to close up the outdoor ventilation of our homes it may be reasonable to consider some sensible use of air filtration symptoms especially in homes occupied by patients with COPD and asthma. In the studies noted, the reduction in exacerbation associated medical costs and reduced medication expense was significant.