Preventing Spring Flare-ups for those with Bronchiectasis

Posted on May 12, 2022   |   
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This post was authored by Christina Hunt, BS, RRT.

Those with bronchiectasis (a lung disease with enlarged airways that are thickened and/or scarred) frequently have a lot of mucus. If a person has normal lungs, they can clear the excess mucus. However, in bronchiectasis, the cilia (tiny hair-like fibers that help to sweep mucus out of the lungs) don’t work well. This causes the mucus to pool and stick to the sides of the airways. When mucus stays in the lungs too long, it can lead to repeated infections causing lung damage.

People with bronchiectasis can be at risk for developing fungal, viral, and bacterial infections. Recent studies suggest that those with bronchiectasis can have high allergen sensitivity rates.1 In particular, fungi and dust seem to be common allergens in the spring. Learning a person’s sensitivities and preventing exposure to allergens could impact how those with bronchiectasis feel. It may also help them to manage their condition. Now that spring has arrived, let’s explore some ways in which people with bronchiectasis can prevent problems caused by common allergens.

Wear a mask when outdoors and exposed to environmental allergens like dust, pollen, or mold. By wearing a facemask, you may be able to filter allergens and reduce the risk of an allergic response.2 Your local weather channel as well as most weather apps will notify you when the air quality is poor. Consider pollen and mold counts before spending extended time outdoors.

Change the filters in your home. Consider purchasing asthma and allergy friendly® filters that can filter out 98% of allergens in the air. Air conditioners can help to lower humidity thereby lowering the chance for mold and fungus to grow. In addition, portable air purifiers may also be helpful to cleanse the air indoors. Keep your windows closed to avoid outside allergens from entering your home.

Declutter. Most of us are familiar with “spring cleaning.” Getting rid of items that you do not need or use may help to make it easier to clean and dust your home. Vacuum frequently to keep dust and other allergens low indoors. Consider wearing a mask when cleaning and dusting your home.

Avoid mold. To prevent mold from growing, lessen moisture in the kitchen and bathrooms by running a fan and limiting the length of showers and baths. Fix any leaks that may be happening and if you see mold growing, clean it up quickly.3

When people with bronchiectasis are exposed to allergens that they are sensitive to, it can cause inflammation and worsen their symptoms. Knowing how to protect themselves from allergens could prevent a potential flare-up from happening. Are you affected by allergens circulating in the air this time of year? What do you do to protect your lungs from allergens that may cause flare-ups?


References:

  1. Mac Aogáin M, Tiew PY, Lim AYH, Low TB, Tan GL, Hassan T, Ong TH, Pang SL, Lee ZY, Gwee XW, Martinus C, Sio YY, Matta SA, Ong TC, Tiong YS, Wong KN, Narayanan S, Au VB, Marlier D, Keir HR, Tee A, Abisheganaden JA, Koh MS, Wang Y, Connolly JE, Chew FT, Chalmers JD, Chotirmall SH. Distinct "Immunoallertypes" of Disease and High Frequencies of Sensitization in Non-Cystic Fibrosis Bronchiectasis. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2019 Apr 1;199(7):842-853. doi: 10.1164/rccm.201807-1355OC. PMID: 30265843.
  2. Dror AA, Eisenbach N, Marshak T, et al. Reduction of allergic rhinitis symptoms with face mask usage during the COVID-19 pandemic. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2020;8(10):3590-3593. doi:10.1016/j.jaip.2020.08.035
  3. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Control Indoor Allergens to Improve Indoor Air Quality https://www.aafa.org/control-indoor-allergens. Accessed March 17, 2022