Exacerbation of COPD by Air Pollution, Cold Temperatures, or Discontinuation of Medicine: What Should Be Measured to Help Prevent It?

  • Seiichi KobayashiEmail author
Part of the Respiratory Disease Series: Diagnostic Tools and Disease Managements book series (RDSDTDM)


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which is a chronic lung disease characterized by airflow limitation, has become a major global public health problem. Natural disasters have a negative impact on the clinical outcomes of patients with COPD in the affected area. Hospital admissions for COPD exacerbations increase after a disaster and continue to increase for up to a month after the disaster. Due to power outages and equipment damage, patients with severe COPD receiving oxygen therapy have to find refuge in hospitals. Exposure to air pollution, including particulate matter and biological materials from the destruction of buildings and tsunami sludge, may contribute to the worsening of respiratory symptoms in patients with COPD. In the aftermath of a disaster, patients may lose their prescribed drugs and oxygen supplies or may be unable to access medical services, resulting in an increase in exacerbations. Patients may be exposed to cold temperatures in damaged houses or emergency shelters with insufficient fuel supplies and power failure and experience shortages of water, food, and sanitary goods, which may lead to poor personal hygiene. An outbreak of acute respiratory infections becomes a major concern. The unfavorable conditions are likely to result in the increased occurrence of exacerbations. Disaster preparedness for COPD patients should be considered before it becomes an emergency.


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) Disaster Exacerbation 


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Respiratory MedicineJapanese Red Cross Ishinomaki HospitalIshinomakiJapan

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