Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an umbrella term for lung conditions, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis, which make it difficult to breathe. These conditions are characterized by obstructed airflow and cough, wheezing, and mucus production. The disease is chronic, meaning that it’s lifelong and currently has no cure. Yet, while the condition cannot be reversed, it is possible to control its impact through lifestyle changes and treatments.
More than 16 million people in the US have COPD, though that figure could be higher because its symptoms are often mistaken for general signs of aging. In fact, some people have COPD for years before symptoms such as shortness of breath manifest. A nagging cough, chest tightness, and diminished ability to exercise are also common symptoms.
Once a diagnosis is confirmed via a lung function test, doctors can recommend treatment options to slow the condition’s progression. Here are a few common approaches.
Smoking Cessation: Smoking is the main risk factor for COPD. While quitting smoking can’t undo the damage that’s already been done, it can slow the progression of COPD and help the body respond to treatment. It can also prevent additional lung damage from occurring.
Avoiding Triggers: Irritants such as air pollution, secondhand smoke, and seasonal allergens can worsen bouts of coughing and other symptoms. Individuals with COPD should aim to avoid any known triggers.
Exercising Regularly: Shortness of breath can make exercise challenging, but a pulmonary rehabilitation program can help people with COPD stay active. This is important since inactivity can make the heart and lungs less tolerant of activity, potentially worsening symptoms.
Exercise frequency and intensity can increase gradually under the guidance of a medical professional. The program may include a light warmup and stretching, cardiovascular exercise such as using a stationary bike or walking, and a strength component such as lifting light weights.
Getting Ample Nutrition: Certain dietary approaches can affect breathing. Healthy, nutrient-rich diet aid in weight management, thus reducing the strain on the lungs. The American Lung Association recommends a mix of fiber, complex carbohydrates, protein, and fats with no cholesterol.
While COPD is a chronic, progressive condition, taking these steps early after receiving a diagnosis can help control the condition’s trajectory and reduce its symptoms as well as exploring alternative options, such as stem cell therapy.
This post was written by a medical professional at Stemedix Inc. You can find more information on multiple airborne diseases here.