What is COPD?
COPD is a chronic lung disease characterized by chronic inflammation in both the lungs and the respiratory system as well as poor airflow in the lungs. It affects over 10 million Americans at present and about 8% of these people die each year from COPD-related causes while more than 100,000 die annually from pneumonia related to their COPD disease process.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is a common lung disease that makes it difficult to breathe. It can cause an almost constant cough and wheeze. The good news is that COPD is a manageable condition.
COPD primarily affects the airways in the lungs and makes it difficult for your lungs to exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide in the blood, according to WebMD. It also affects how well you can exercise and how much exercise you should do based on your individual condition.
There are two main types of COPD: chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Bronchitis causes inflammation of the airways in the lungs while emphysema occurs when there is destruction of lung tissue with airflow obstruction from destruction or blockage from scarring or inflammation.
COPD Symptoms Can Be Bad For Your Health
COPD is a chronic lung disease that it can be triggered by a number of factors. One of the symptoms is shortness of breath. COPD also causes other symptoms like wheezing, cough, and chest tightness.
There are various treatments available for COPD such as using inhalers and medication. However, these treatments only provide temporary relief from symptoms; they don't stop them from happening in the first place.
The American Lung Association suggests several ways to treat COPD including:
- Quitting smoking
Smoking is the leading cause of COPD in the United States, and is responsible for around 90% of COPD-related deaths.
Tobacco smoke irritates the airways within your lungs and causes them to narrow, therefore making it harder to breathe in and out.
Recent research indicated that people with COPD who smoke are at more risk for a rapid decline in lung function, more complications, and increased mortality.
Smoking is related to a reduced effectiveness of inhaled steroid medications that doctors use to treat severe COPD.
Quitting smoking is the most effective action that anyone with COPD can take to slow disease progression. It is also a choice available for those who see a doctor for advice on quitting and those looking to quit via a website like smokefree.gov
- Breathing exercises
Breathing exercises provide a way for people with COPD to improve their breathing & exercise capacity at the same time. They also help to reduce symptoms.
Breathing exercises included:
Pursed-lip breathing. The way in which people use their noses to breathe can also prevent them from contracting chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Pranayama. This is a controlled breathing technique common in yoga practice. When practicing this technique, you'll need to focus on parts of your body that are involved with breathing.
Diaphragm breathing. The diaphragm contracts when breathing in and expands when breathing out, allowing for the body to take in more oxygen.
While there were no differences in symptoms such as shortness of breath and quality of life, people who used the breathing exercises had improved exercise tolerance. It is not known yet whether they will help people with COPD who have difficulty exercising.
- Maintain a healthy weight
People who are underweight are at increased risk of death than those that are overweight. Even more research is needed to find out about the impact of obesity on a COPD diagnosis.
COPD patients who are underweight are more likely to experience:
Have difficulty exercising
Breathing muscles (weakness)
Have a reduction in lung capacity
A diet high in calories and protein may help people with COPD by improving lung function. The diet also has metabolic and heart benefits, as well as for those who are underweight.
This dietary strategy provides significant energy benefits that may be responsible for its muscle-building effects. However, significant information gaps exist to fully understand the impact on people with COPD.
- Supplemental oxygen
The human body requires oxygen to function and many people are at risk of a respiratory condition. This means that some sufferers require oxygen therapy to survive. It can also help with everyday activities like food digestion.
- Complementary therapies
Complementary therapies refer to the many therapies, philosophies and practices which are not in line with conventional or standard medical care in the United States. When it comes to choosing complementary therapies, there are some that can't treat COPD but may be able to improve your symptoms and quality of life. They include massage, yoga and acupuncture.
Supplements for COPD
COPD can worsen over time if it is not treated properly. For this reason, COPD patients are encouraged to take supplements that help with breathing.
A multi-vitamin for people with COPD should contain high amounts of antioxidants such as vitamin C and vitamin E. Vitamin C helps in lung tissue repair and prevents oxidative stress while vitamin E protects cells from free radicals. Other supplements containing omega 3 fatty acids can help with inflammation in the lungs while calcium helps in the prevention of bone loss which happens due to COPD
When to see a doctor
If you experience any of the following symptoms when trying to breath normally, please seek immediate medical attention:
Increase bouts of shortness of breath
Increase mucus production
Mucus that is green, yellow, or brown
Mucous that is thicker or feels stickier than normal
Cold or flu symptoms
If you have certain signs and symptoms, call 911 right away. The following are warning signs that you might have a COPD exacerbation:
Blue lips or fingers
Difficulty catching your breath
You are feeling dizzy
You are feeling confused or agitated
COPD patients can reduce the risks of developing complications by treating them early when they are likely to be less severe.
Please call Superior Compounding Pharmacy to speak with one of our licensed pharmacists today at 734-404-6065. We can help answer any medication questions that you may have.