Sensitivity to environmental irritants and quality of life in COPD

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It is a common clinical experience that patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) complain of airway symptoms provoked by environmental irritants like chemicals and scents, although few studies can confirm such connections. The aim was to study the prevalence of airway symptoms induced by chemicals and scents in a group of patients with newly diagnosed CPOD and to analyze any relation to illness severity and quality of life. Eighty-one patients with COPD were recruited to the study. By mail they were asked to answer three questionnaires regarding symptoms, quality of life, and social and emotional influence of airway symptoms induced by environmental irritants. A majority (62%) of the COPD patients claimed to be hyperreactive to chemicals and scents. As a group they scored higher on a questionnaire measuring social and emotional influences of such environmental irritants compared to healthy control subjects. Further, high scores were more common among patients with a very severe form of COPD and among patients with regular use of β 2-stimulants. High scores were also associated with significantly more airway symptoms and, in some aspects, with impaired quality of life. In conclusion, the results of this study show that airway symptoms induced by environmental irritants are common in patients with COPD and that this increased airway sensitivity follows the impairment of lung capacity. The mechanisms behind this remain unclear. © 2011 Ternesten-Hasséus et al, publisher and licensee Dove Medical Press Ltd.




Ternesten-Hasséus, E., Larsson, S., & Millqvist, E. (2011). Sensitivity to environmental irritants and quality of life in COPD. International Journal of COPD, 6(1), 685–691.

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