About 12 million people in the United States are suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). This is comprised of three respiratory ailments including chronic bronchitis, chronic asthma, and emphysema. Each of this condition is characterized by chronic obstruction of airflow through the airways. The obstruction is permanent and it often progresses over time.
Causes For COPD
Smoking is the leading cause of 90 percent of COPD cases in the country. Not all cigarette smokers will have COPD but about 15 percent will. Smokers also have higher rates of death due to this ailment.
Other causes include:
- second-hand smoke
- air pollution
- occupational pollutants
- Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency
Signs and Symptoms of COPD
Common signs and symptoms of COPD include:
- shortness of breath
- chronic cough
- production of cloudy and discolored sputum
Those with advanced COPD usually develop:
- bluish discoloration of the lips
- morning headaches
- weight loss
Most of the symptoms of COPD begin as mild annoyance but they get worse over time. You may even find yourself at short of breath after doing very simple activities like preparing meals or getting your clothes on. These can be alleviated by taking on health habits that include the following:
Most people who have COPD stay away from physical activity as much as possible since they always experience shortness of breath after exercising. But lung function will further deteriorate if you stop moving altogether. Staying active can counter that effect as exercise conditions the heart, blood vessels, and muscles. When they are in top condition, they would require less oxygen to function. The less oxygen needed, the less pressure on the lungs.
When you have COPD, you should observe what the common triggers are. Usually these would include cold or humid air, pet dander, cleaning agents, and air pollution. It's also a must to take extra precautions against catching a cold, flu, and pneumonia. It's recommended to have an air filter inside the home or to keep the air circulation going by opening the widows.
Do the Pursed-Lip Breathing
Another strategy to try would be to change the way you breathe. This can ease shortness of breath. Instead of breathing the usual way that you do, you can try breathing through pursed lip, which would be like breathing through a straw. This reduces the likelihood for the airways to collapse. Inhale through your nose for four seconds. Then exhale through your mouth for six to eight seconds with your lips only very slightly opened. This will enable you to breathe out more air, allowing for more space in your lungs.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Both emphysema and chronic bronchitis, the two components of COPD, require healthy eating. Patients with emphysema are not only short of breath, they are also often malnourished. Some bronchitis patients meanwhile tend to be overweight. Both pose problems for people with COPD. Having healthy diet that is rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants can help greatly in easing shortness of breath.