Household Hazards That PF Patients Should Avoid

Household Hazards That PF Patients Should Avoid

I’ll never forget the day I was diagnosed with a terminal illness. After months of shortness of breath, a dry, chronic cough, and unusual fatigue, I finally sought an urgent care physician’s opinion about why my lungs were being so problematic.

I’d tried multiple antibiotics, inhalers, and steroids to relieve symptoms of what I thought was a stubborn cold. I was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) a little over three years ago, and I’ve been learning to live with it ever since.

Most physicians consider it rare that a young adult is diagnosed with IPF. However, I am meeting many young adults in various online communities who are also living with this life-threatening lung disease, so I wouldn’t consider it as rare as people might think.

I was diagnosed at 28, and I vividly remember my doctors telling me they were unsure about how this disease would progress. They said it might be slow and have very little impact on my daily life, or things could change rapidly for me. Regardless of how this disease progressed, I would have a role in taking steps to protect my lungs from things that might exacerbate the fibrosis.

Since my diagnosis, I’ve become very aware of things that might affect my breathing or cause further damage to my lungs. I avoid secondhand smoke at all costs, even if it means waiting in my car until someone finishes a cigarette and being late to a meeting.

I also opt to wear a mask in environments where germs could be passed around, such as an office space or airplane. If I know others are sick, I will cancel social plans altogether. The chance of a respiratory virus causing damage to my lungs is just too great, and I’m not willing to risk it.

I’ve also made changes in the household products I use. I didn’t know how many airborne hazards can damage lungs that are already compromised from an interstitial lung disease (ILD), such as IPF. Inhaling toxins can trigger a chronic cough or cause an acute exacerbation, which almost certainly will result in a loss of some lung function.

While it may not be realistic to avoid the following hazards at all times, eliminating them from your home gradually or switching to a natural product may help maintain your lung function.

Did you know these household products can be hazardous to your lungs?

  • Candles and essential oils: There is a lot of buzz about the use of essential oils for various ailments. While I enjoy the scent of various oils myself, I can’t help but remain skeptical about their health benefits. If you choose to diffuse oils, I’d highly encourage you to ensure they are as pure as possible. I no longer choose to scent my home with candles due to the danger of having fire near supplemental oxygen and because of the chemicals that are released into the air while the candle burns.
  • Cat litter: The dust that cat litter emits when I empty my cat’s litter bin is enough to trigger a terrible cough. If I could avoid this I would, but it’s a task that needs to be done. Cat urine can also be very potent and I find the smell very difficult to be around. When I handle the litter bin, I wear my Vogmask and have it tightly secured around my nose and mouth. Quick tip: A PF Forums member shared with me that there are dustless cat litter options!
  • Bathroom mold and cleaners: It is important for patients with IPF to avoid mold at all costs. Oftentimes, it can cause an ILD to develop. Even those with healthy lungs should avoid exposure to mold or harsh bathroom cleaners.
  • Dryer lint and dust: Unsurprisingly, dust and lint particles are small enough to be inhaled, which can irritate the lungs, often triggering a cough or difficulty breathing. When cleaning your home, take precautions to avoid inhaling these small particles.

Do you know of any other household chores or products that cause you difficulty breathing or are considered hazardous to your lungs?

***

Note: Pulmonary Fibrosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Fibrosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary fibrosis.

Thanks for stopping by my column! My name is Charlene Marshall and I was diagnosed officially with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) on April 7 2016 after 13 months of various tests, hospitalizations and misdiagnoses, such as bronchitis and asthma. Due to my age, the specialist disclosed that he was unsure how the IPF would manifest itself in terms of progression, and whether it would be fast or slow and what the course of my illness might look like. Not much has changed since then, meaning there is still a lot that remains unknown, which is largely due to my age and how “rare” it is for someone under 30 to receive a diagnosis of IPF. That being said, a lot has changed for me in the time since diagnosis and I am looking forward to sharing some of those changes with you through this online platform, and I invite you along for the ride! Throughout this column I intend to chronicle the experience of living with an invisible, yet fatal disease as a young adult and share some stories about how IPF has impacted every aspect of my life, both good and bad, thus far. I plan on highlighting the challenges (and where I can, the positives…) that come with living with IPF and the impact on social and intimate relationships, finances, family dynamics, facing mortality, infertility, travelling, medication side effects, career goals and so much more as it arises for me as a “new” patient. I hope others’ with similar experiences will reach out as no story trumps any other, nor should any go unheard. For now, let me leave you with some personal details about who I am, outside of my IPF diagnosis. I grew up in a small town in south-western Ontario and still live within Ontario, although in a much bigger city. My favorite sport is/was underwater hockey (yes, it is a thing: look it up on YouTube), I love working with people, I work full-time in the Social Work/Social Services field, I am an avid learner filled with heaps of curiosity for the world, which lead me to start my Masters Degree in 2014. I am in the last few months of my Masters Degree and am looking forward to an upcoming trip to Australia more than I’ve looked forward to anything before. Welcome to the shambles and chaos that is my life!
×
Thanks for stopping by my column! My name is Charlene Marshall and I was diagnosed officially with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) on April 7 2016 after 13 months of various tests, hospitalizations and misdiagnoses, such as bronchitis and asthma. Due to my age, the specialist disclosed that he was unsure how the IPF would manifest itself in terms of progression, and whether it would be fast or slow and what the course of my illness might look like. Not much has changed since then, meaning there is still a lot that remains unknown, which is largely due to my age and how “rare” it is for someone under 30 to receive a diagnosis of IPF. That being said, a lot has changed for me in the time since diagnosis and I am looking forward to sharing some of those changes with you through this online platform, and I invite you along for the ride! Throughout this column I intend to chronicle the experience of living with an invisible, yet fatal disease as a young adult and share some stories about how IPF has impacted every aspect of my life, both good and bad, thus far. I plan on highlighting the challenges (and where I can, the positives…) that come with living with IPF and the impact on social and intimate relationships, finances, family dynamics, facing mortality, infertility, travelling, medication side effects, career goals and so much more as it arises for me as a “new” patient. I hope others’ with similar experiences will reach out as no story trumps any other, nor should any go unheard. For now, let me leave you with some personal details about who I am, outside of my IPF diagnosis. I grew up in a small town in south-western Ontario and still live within Ontario, although in a much bigger city. My favorite sport is/was underwater hockey (yes, it is a thing: look it up on YouTube), I love working with people, I work full-time in the Social Work/Social Services field, I am an avid learner filled with heaps of curiosity for the world, which lead me to start my Masters Degree in 2014. I am in the last few months of my Masters Degree and am looking forward to an upcoming trip to Australia more than I’ve looked forward to anything before. Welcome to the shambles and chaos that is my life!

10 comments

  1. Chuck Harrison says:

    Hi Charlene , I just noticed that you were diagnoised with ipf the day after I was ! April 6th 2016 . Funny ole world isn’t ? Lol .
    Well at any rate , I’m really writing to find out how your doing , and wondering how your faring in your daily life ?
    I purpose staying away from this hurts , this wrong that kinda stuff .
    I just don’t want my life to be defined by constant complaing about me ,
    I’m truly interested in you :i.e. Your health , the kind of struggles your dealing with or just plain getting know you . This make sense ?

    • Charlene Marshall says:

      Hello my friend!

      What a crazy world – diagnosed one day apart! As always, thanks for reading my columns and reaching out via the comments… I love hearing from you! Excuse the brevity of this reply, I’m trying to get caught up on a few things before going to bed for the night but I can absolutely reply to details about me at a later date (just remind me – my mind is focused on my vacation coming up next week :-)). Some days are good, others are worse but in general I can still do many of the things I like to do, just a lot slower. I’m actually in the midst of writing a column right now about the importance of pacing yourself as a PF patient. I’ll definitely email you with some information, but feel free to connect with me directly if I forget: [email protected]

      Cheers!

  2. Wundrbar says:

    One way to avoid litter dust is to use the innovative litter systems that use permanent litter like Tidy Cats Breeze or the Cat-illac Cat Toilet. These systems use a dustless granule and with them you never have to buy or change litter again and stop filling our landfill sites with millions of tons of litter. Although the Breeze system uses litter pads that need to be replaced, the Cat-illac system uses a large holding tank that you just pour into your toilet. These are very easy to use and I highly recommend them.

    • Charlene Marshall says:

      Ah, really great information Wundrbar … thank you so much for sharing this! I can imagine that many of us living with IPF and who have cats will benefit from this great information. Much appreciated 🙂
      Charlene.

  3. Joe O'Hanlon says:

    Hi Charlene,
    I am 77 and have suffered recent excacibations. So, I feel that I am in my last year. The association that I wish to make is regarding irritants. When I was at work in my late 50’s (58 – 60), I would work late, clearing up my desk, maybe for an hour or so. The cleaners came in and would use pressurised spray cleaners on the desks. I found the atmosphere created upset my breathing. I requested that they do upstairs first, but found the same as it came though tbe air conditioning. I eventually got them to change to a water diluted cleaner and put into hand sprayers which solved my problem.
    I was some 14 years later that I was diagnosed with IPF. As we all know it is untreatable, so I chose not to tell my family, until the symptoms would become obvious. That occurred last July, just short of 6 years after the initial diagnosis. I knew that it would be necessary to give them time to come to terms with my immanent departure but saved them the worry for all that time. It was also a great discipine for me to do / atempt all my normal activities.
    I have many observations but have gone on too long. Another time. Joe.

    • Charlene Marshall says:

      Hi Joe,

      Thank you so much for reading my columns and getting in touch via the comments. Sorry to hear you’ve experienced recent exacerbations, I remember how scary that was for me when I went through it. Your suggestion is a really important one – cleaners can be so harsh on our lungs and breathing, and usually corporations who have a lot of space to clean, disregard the need for natural products. It’s so hard to accept that, isn’t it? Sorry they didn’t listen to your advocating earlier. That is tough! Hang in there, and thank you for your kind words and writing to use. Wishing you nothing but the very best.

      Kind regards,
      Charlene.

  4. Ken Vetters says:

    Regarding irritants that you should avoid, I would add that while cooking, recipes often call for spices to be sautéed before adding them to the dish. Be very careful not to learn over the pan when you add the spices to the sauté pan. The resulting flare up will absolutely take your breath away. Extreme coughing results. I’m 82 years young and was diagnosed with IPF five years ago. Still getting by with far less activity than in the past. Hang in there everyone.

    • Charlene Marshall says:

      Hi Ken,

      Thanks for reading my column and getting in touch via the comments. This is a really interesting suggestion regarding irritants and one I wouldn’t have known about, so thank you for sharing. Undoubtedly this will help many others as well. Thank you!

      Kind regards,
      Charlene.

  5. George Crowe says:

    Hi Charlene,
    As far as irritants go I have a list. I get fits of coughing from aerosols of all kinds, any cooking with hot oils, cooking smoke and even taking a shower when the water particles irritate my cough. Of course, there are all the other usual sources of particulates from garden fires to barbeques, smokers and vehicle exhausts. I try to avoid most of them but C’est La Vie!
    Best regards,
    George Crowe

    • Charlene Marshall says:

      Hi George,

      Thanks for reading my columns and getting in touch via the comments! This is a really important topic, so I am sure others will benefit from your experience here as well. Interesting that you experience a cough from hot oils…. I definitely do from cooking smoke, or any kind of smoke like cigarettes, vaping etc. Sometimes the heat and steam of a shower bothers me too. Do you wear a mask to avoid them? I try to avoid large crowds of people because I never know what they might do – ie. have a lit ciagrette going, but ultimately it is impossible to do all the time. Thanks for writing us!
      Charlene.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *