The Knowledge Center

Avoiding COPD triggers.

In addition to considering your treatment options, try to identify your personal chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) triggers, so you can avoid as many of them as possible. Talk to your doctor about identifying and reducing your triggers.

The first and most common trigger is cigarette smoke. Smoking causes most cases of COPD in the United States (although nonsmokers can get COPD, too). If you smoke, it is important to quit. Quitting smoking can help slow the progression of COPD. If you’ve already quit, you’ve taken a great step.

Among the major triggers:

  • Dangerous gases (including carbon monoxide and radon)
  • Air pollution: indoor and outdoor air pollution can trigger COPD. Avoid traffic jams, smoke, and strong chemical fumes, and limit the time you spend outside if there is an air pollution alert
  • Respiratory infections

Make smart choices.

  • If you smoke, try to quit
  • Try to avoid exposure to irritants like polluted air or toxins
  • Try to avoid respiratory infections—talk to your doctor about the flu shot and pneumonia vaccine, and avoid contact with people who are sick when possible
  • Talk to your doctor about all of your treatment and management options

Want to know more about:

Getting diagnosed? >

What to do after COPD diagnosis? >

How to manage COPD? >