There is no denying that living with COPD is difficult. Some simple, practical steps can help you manage your symptoms and breathe better.
Simply put, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), is a lung disease that makes it difficult to breathe for people who have the condition. COPD is actually an umbrella term used to describe several lung diseases, which include asthma, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema. Smoking is one of the chief causes of COPD, as it damages your lungs extensively over the years. Other factors that may increase your risk of developing this chronic lung disease include exposure to chemical fumes and gases for a long time, air pollution, and dust. The symptoms of COPD usually start showing after considerable damage has been done to the lungs over several years, so this disease is mostly diagnosed in people who are over the age of 60 years. However, you may develop COPD earlier on in life if you had some serious lung infections during your childhood.
The symptoms of COPD include shortness of breath (particularly during some physical activity), persistent cough, and wheezing. Such symptoms occur as the disease causes a hindrance in the airflow from your lungs. Although COPD is a chronic health condition, it is a treatable one. Following your doctor’s advice and sticking to your medication schedule can be effective in fighting COPD. In addition, there are certain lifestyle changes and small, useful steps that you can take to fight COPD symptoms. Here’s a list of some things that you can make a habit of in your daily life in order to minimize your breathing difficulties.
Pulmonary rehabilitation is a crucial part of COPD treatment, as it teaches you certain exercises that help you catch your breath at times when you experience breathing troubles. During a pulmonary rehabilitation program, you will also learn about the best ways to sit, stand, inhale, and exhale—all of which work towards making breathing easier for you. Your doctor may recommend such a program depending on the intensity and frequency of your symptoms, and learning these techniques can significantly help you to manage your COPD symptoms to have a more comfortable everyday life.
Aerobic exercises, deep breathing, controlled coughing, and pursed-lip breathing are some other exercises that can help in reducing your breathing difficulties caused by COPD. Ensure that you learn these breathing exercises from a certified professional, and once you get the hang of it, you can easily practice these techniques at home as part of your daily exercise routine.
As we have mentioned earlier, smoking and long-term exposure to smoke is the main culprit that leads to a person developing COPD as well as other lung diseases. By the time the COPD symptoms have manifested themselves on your body, your lungs have already suffered considerable damage. However, this is no reason to continue with smoking as quitting the habit means preventing further damage on your lungs. As Neil MacIntyre, MD, a pulmonologist and professor of medicine at Duke University Medical Center, puts it, “The first thing you have to do to get out of a hole is stop digging.” If you find it difficult to kick the habit on your own, talk to your doctor to help you out. But quitting is essential to helping you breathe easy, in addition to improving your overall health and reducing the risk of other diseases such as lung cancer and heart problems.
If you have COPD and are experiencing breathing difficulties, one effective way to counter the symptoms is to maintain a healthy weight. You need to keep a check on your weight, in both senses of the term. If you are overweight, it may contribute to your breathing troubles as you end up carrying around excessive weight in whatever you do. On the other hand, some people who have severe COPD have to use a lot of energy just to breathe, which leads to a loss of weight. In such cases, you need to ensure that you eat well enough to maintain the desired weight.
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