Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) begins with symptoms that are often associated with ageing. After the age of 30, lungs undergo a natural decline irrespective of whether you have COPD or not. However, chronic cough and shortness of breath are symptoms that shouldn’t be ignored because they are the telltale signs of COPD, a leading cause of disability and death in the United States.
People suffering from COPD have impaired airways, sending less oxygen to the body and expelling carbon dioxide at a lower rate. Though the disease is not curable, medication and pulmonary rehabilitation for COPD can allow you to manage the symptoms better and slow the progression of COPD to live a longer life.
Avoiding exacerbations are extremely important because they can easily land you in the emergency room. Apart from being extremely painful, they are potentially life-threatening because they further the damage caused to your lungs. More often than not, exacerbations will create a lower baseline of lung function as compared to the one you had before the exacerbation. If you’re keen on reducing the risk of exacerbations and slowing down the progression of this chronic disease, here are a few tips that may be helpful.
Quitting the Habit of Smoking
If you are serious about slowing the progression of COPD but don’t mind smoking a couple of cigarettes every other day, you need to stop. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that eight out of every ten COPD deaths occur due to smoking. For women of specific age groups, smoking can make you highly susceptible to developing COPD than those who never smoke.
Though smoking isn’t the sole cause of COPD, it can degrade your condition very easily if you continue to do it. Hence, the wise choice would be to stop this habit before it does more damage to your lungs.
Staying Away from Pollution and Airborne Toxins
Apart from cigarette smoke, you must also stay away from other toxins in the air at work and home. It’s crucial to know your environment and take necessary precautions to ensure you’re not inhaling anything hazardous to your health. If you spend your time around dust or fumes, you must know what they are. Regardless of their origin, you should find a way to avoid the environment or wear a mask when you enter that setting.
Joining Pulmonary Rehabilitation
There are no two ways around it when it comes to pulmonary rehabilitation. Designed specifically for people suffering from COPD, this therapy program is meant to equip you with the knowledge and skills that can help you manage your symptoms effectively. From pulmonary rehabilitation exercises for enhancing lung function to counselling and group therapy for emotional support, pulmonary rehab offers incredible value to patients with COPD. If you are determined about slowing the progression of your disease, you must enroll at pulmonary rehab if you haven’t done it already.
Eating Nutritious Food
Many people who suffer from COPD may also have heart conditions and eating a nutritious and balanced diet can help them prevent complications that may come further down the road. According to a recent study, eating foods that contain fiber can play a beneficial role in enhancing lung health and function.
Taking Your Medication As Prescribed
A common problem that most people face is using inhalers incorrectly. Inhalers tend to be confusing because they are available in many different types. Though they may work the same way, preparing, inhaling, and cleaning each device may be different.
As a result, it is essential to understand how to use your long-acting inhaler precisely the way your doctor prescribed it to reduce your risk of exacerbation.
Avoiding Germs Whenever You Can
Many exacerbations are a result of infections, which can be either bacterial or viral. Because of this reason, it is necessary to follow strict hand hygiene by washing hands regularly, especially when you touch other surfaces.
If a family member or colleague is sick, it is crucial that you avoid physical contact with them and wear a mask whenever you have to be near them. At times, you have to change your plans to stay healthy, including not being around grand kids when they have flu or colds.
If you want to slow COPD progression, you have to protect your body against preventable diseases. It would include getting a flu shot every year with other vaccines that need to be taken.
People with COPD need to take their pneumonia vaccines seriously, mainly because this chronic condition puts them at a greater risk of developing pneumonia at any age.
If you have COPD, life will be highly challenging for you. However, the healthcare community is going its best to make things easier and better for you. Now it is possible for you to seek virtual cardiac rehab and pulmonary rehab to get all the treatment and support you need in the comfort of your home. Preventing exacerbations and managing symptoms won’t come easy, but if you follow the guidelines of your healthcare provider judiciously, you will have better odds.