Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) is a condition that makes breathing more difficult. COPD is usually caused by long term exposure of the lungs to irritants, most commonly tobacco smoke, as well as others like air pollution or chemical fumes. In a few rare cases, it is caused by a genetic condition or asthma. However, tobacco smoking is the single biggest risk factor.
Inflammation or damage to the lungs and airways can cause shortness of breath and chest tightness. You may find yourself wheezing or coughing up a lot of mucus. It may become difficult over time for you to do regular activities like walking or household chores, and you may find yourself becoming sick more often. It is also not unusual for people with COPD to experience depression.
COPD is a systemic disorder, which means it can affect multiple areas of your body. There is no cure, but there are ways to relieve your symptoms and slow the progress of the disease.
Five ways to control symptoms of COPD
1. Stop smoking
Quitting is the best thing you can do for yourself. Continuing to smoke will cause further damage to your lungs and prevent you from experiencing the full benefits of treatment. Your doctor can tell you about programs or products that can help.
2. Take your medicine
Don’t make any assumptions about how your medications should be taken. There are different kinds of inhalers and they don’t all work the same way. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain the correct way to use your inhaler. You will also receive instructions for how often to take the medicine and when to stop. Treatment is more effective if you take your medicine as directed.
3. Work out
Even though it might be difficult for you to be active, you should exercise as much as you can.
Strengthening certain muscles can make it easier to breathe. Consult with your doctor or physical therapist about safe types of exercise and breathing techniques.
4. Prevent infection
People with COPD are more susceptible to respiratory problems such as colds, influenza and pneumonia. These illnesses can make it more difficult to breathe and cause further damage to the lungs. Vaccines can help protect you from infections; ask your doctor what is right for you.
5. Get some rest
Breathing difficulties associated with COPD means that it takes more energy for sufferers to breath. Conserve your energy by getting a good night sleep and avoiding extreme exertion.