COPD OR Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is a progressive disease of the lungs that includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Because of COPD, a patient finds it tough to breathe, which impacts his energy levels and leads to feelings of fatigue.
There are variations in the severity of symptoms of COPD. In the early stages, they can be mild and may not interfere with the daily routine. But with the progression of the disease, symptoms turn worse, such as wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing, increase in production of mucus, frequent infections in the lungs, tightness of the chest, and fatigue.
About COPD Fatigue
Fatigue is a common symptom of COPD, with 50% to 70% of patients reporting it. COPD fatigue leads to tiredness and loss of energy. This can impact the quality of life of the patient substantially.
People with COPD find it tough to breathe oxygen into their lungs and carbon dioxide out of it. This excess of CO2 and shortage of oxygen can make a person feel tired and lethargic.
COPD causes damage to airways resulting in loss of tone of air-sacs which make them floppy. A person with COPD finds it impossible to empty their lungs this results in an accumulation of CO2 in the body leading to tiredness and low energy levels.
The main reason is that breathing becomes challenging for patients with COPD and needs lots of effort. This added effort causes the use of more energy which worsens fatigue. COPD fatigue can impact the ability of a person to do daily activities like recreation, personal grooming, and household chores. It can even lead to depression.
Tips For Coping with COPD Fatigue
A doctor can prescribe medications to alleviate COPD like Bronchodilator inhalers, steroid inhalers, and oxygen therapy.
- Breathing exercises and quitting smoking
These can help patients with COPD. Breathing exercises can help patients by slowing the rate of respiration, eliminating trapped CO2, and alleviating shortness of breath. Another must-to-do is quitting smoking which can otherwise worsen COPD.
- Balanced diet
Consuming a healthy and balanced diet can aid patients with COPD in meeting their enhanced needs for energy and good health. These include limiting simple carbs (sugar, cakes, soda), boosting complex carbs (fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains), gaining plenty of dietary fiber (fruits, nuts, vegetables, seeds), eating plenty of proteins (lean meat, fish, eggs) and avoiding trans-fats and processed food.
- Organizing activities
Rearrange one’s daily routine by balancing activity with rest. Break down tasks into simple steps with times of rest in between. By pacing activities, one can reduce fatigue, conserve energy and lead an active life.
- Regular exercise
This may seem tough for a person who is already fatigued, but regular exercise can help in boosting energy. Exercise like Yoga, strength training, and walking are ideal, and a stronger body can better combat feelings of fatigue.
Taking part in pulmonary rehabilitation helps make this a sound routine. This can be done either onsite at hospitals or virtually through virtual telemedicine. Such classes will be supervised by doctors, nurses, and therapists for the sake of patient safety.
- Treat other issues
COPD has a tendency to grow worse with the passage of time, leading to other health issues and complications. For instance, OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnoea) is highly common in COPD patients. OSA causes blockages of airways that interfere with a patient’s breathing during sleep.
Another health issue with COPD is depression which develops due to anxiety about the disease and loss of energy. Persons with COPD must discuss with doctors any such health complications.
In sum, patients with COPD experience fatigue most of the time. But the management of symptoms in close collaboration with a therapist or doctor can help in boosting levels of energy. Also, making changes in lifestyle, diet, and physical fitness through pulmonary rehabilitation exercises can help alleviate COPD fatigue and enhance the quality of life.