Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (known as COPD) is a disease wherein it's constantly difficult to breathe. It ranks as the third leading cause of death in the US.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease could be caused due to various reason:
Smoking: Smoking cigarettes, pipes, cigars or other types of tobacco is the leading cause of this disease. Most patients with COPD are smokers or used to smoke.
Other irritants: COPD can be caused due to a long-term exposure to other irritants of the lungs, especially if you work around chemical fumes, live in unhealthy dusty conditions or reside in a highly polluted neighborhood.
Other causes of COPD include long-term exposure to second hand smoke and a rare genetic condition known as alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. This is the deficiency of a protein made in the liver.
Symptoms of COPD
It's tough to identify the initial signs and symptoms of COPD as many people have no symptoms or very mild indicators at the initial stage. As the disease progresses, symptoms start appearing, typical warning signs are the following:
- A lingering cough
- Coughing that coughs out a lot of mucus also called "smoker's cough"
- Shortness of breath, especially during physical activity.
- Wheezing (a whistling or squeaky sound) when you breathe.
- Tightness or congestion in the chest.
- Constantly suffering from colds and the flu.
Advanced cases of COPD can cause other symptoms, such as:
- Swelling in your ankles, feet, or legs.
- Weight loss.
- Lower muscle endurance.
COPD Home Remedies
Currently, COPD has no cure. Damage done to lung and airways are irreversible. However, the effect of damage and any more damage could be affected by doing certain lifestyle changes. To fight against COPD, you should try to do following home remedies.
- Foods with Omega-3s:
Add Omega -3 rich foods to your diet to actively fight the effects of COPD. Omega-3 rich foods are cold-water fish, flax seeds, walnuts, avocados and olive oil.
- Vitamin-Rich Foods
Foods high in vitamins A, C and E should be included in your diet to help fight the symptoms of COPD. Fresh fruits and vegetables should be consumed to get enough nutrients, Vitamins, and minerals.
- Foods with Vitamin C
Foods rich in Vitamin C helps improve lung function and gives a boost to your immune system. Vitamin C rich foods are cooked leafy greens, fresh tomatoes, sweet potatoes, green peppers, winter squash, raspberries, cranberries, blueberries, and pineapple. Citrus fruits are especially helpful because they contain quercetin.
- Reduce stress
As with most diseases, stress escalates your problems. Keep your nerves calm and it can help control COPD. Stress or fear of the attack could trigger breathlessness and increase heartbeat. Keep yourself relaxed by getting involved in some hobbies like painting, crafting, gardening etc. and stay calm.
- Breathing Techniques
Learning proper breathing techniques help COPD patients to cope up with this disease.
- Pursed Lip Breathing
Pursed-lip breathing helps in getting breaths out easier. Lungs of COPD patients often face a buildup of air in the lungs, which makes it hard for them to expand. This technique can help regulate this issue. For this, sit in a comfortable position and inhale deeply through the nose. Exhale through your mouth and purse your lips as if you were whistling. Breathe out three times longer than you did breathing in. Do not force out the air. Some people use this technique to regulate breathing pattern when shortness of breath occurs.
- Diaphragm Breathing
Diaphragm breathing technique strengthens the diaphragm muscle, which helps you conserve energy while breathing. Lie on your back with your knees bent. Place one hand on the upper chest while keeping another resting on the abdomen. As you inhale and exhale, try to keep the chest as still as possible by using your stomach to breathe. Try to do this technique three times daily and for 5 to 10 minutes per session.
- Eat Smaller Portions
To avoid shortness of breath, opt for smaller portions over large meals.
Fresh pineapples are rich in Bromelain which is a protein-digesting enzyme. This can help reduce coughing, as well as reduce mucus production due to a respiratory infection.
- Stay Away from Cough Suppressants
The coughing gets rid of accumulated mucus from the lungs. So, COPD patients should try to avoid treatments that suppress coughing.
- Stop Smoking and Avoid Secondhand Smoke
Smoking is the leading cause of COPD, so quitting could be one of the smartest things to do for your health. Even second-hand smoking should be avoided. If you continue to smoke with COPD, then damage could be more and sometimes fatal also.
- Don't Sleep Under Open Windows
COPD patients should position bed away from windows as direct cold air during winters can trigger bronchospasm and shortness of breath. Windows can be opened during summertime.
- Say ‘No' to Salt
Say no to salt or reduce your salt intake as sodium can lead to fluid retention, which can worsen your shortness of breath and also cause swelling in your legs.
Ginger is a spicy herb rich in powerful antioxidants that support lung health. You can add the root to the boiling water to make a healing tea or add the fresh root to your vegetables and other recipes. Ginger also contains natural antibiotics that help fight off infection.
- Vitamin D
A new study suggests that an increase in vitamin D can make breathing easier by treating chronic lung disease.
Exercising for COPD patients is taxing. However, regular exercise can ease troubled breathing by improving overall strength and endurance. Physical exercise also makes your respiratory muscles stronger.
- Shed Pounds
Go for weight loss and conserve your much-needed energy. A lean and fit body would help in avoiding shortness of breath and improve your overall breathing.
Learn yoga positions to relax your body and calm your nerves. Also, focus on breathing techniques that ease symptoms of COPD.
- Tai Chi
The relaxing movements of tai chi encourage better breathing and thus are beneficial to COPD patients.
- Drink Lots of Water
Keep yourself hydrated by drinking 8 glasses or more of water and other liquids in a day. This helps to get rid of the mucus building up in your lungs and airways and this will help keep the lungs clear.
Running a humidifier in your bedroom can help a COPD patient by keeping airways free of mucus and ease difficult breathing.
- Dust Frequently:
Keep your surroundings spic and span and dust free as a dusty environment can affect your lung condition. Clean, dust free surroundings can lessen your chances of suffering a flare-up.
- Circulate Your Air
Bad air can worsen your breathing. Purify your air by opening your windows and frequently replace air filters in your home. Combat allergens by using the air conditioning to bring in the air on a hot day. Fresh and allergen-free air can be soothing for your respiratory system.
Some people enjoy a nice massage and the relaxing sense of touch can also encourage better breathing besides reducing the anxiety associated with COPD.