Living with a respiratory disorder such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD), has its own set of unique challenges and a number of lifestyle adjustments are required to help build lung power and conserve energy. Breathlessness, tightness in the chest, wheezing and coughing are some of the symptoms that are experienced by those suffering from COPD. Making lifestyle changes such as eating well and maintaining a healthy weight can help you control COPD symptoms.
What is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)?
COPD is a serious lung disease which makes your breathing difficult. It slowly gets worse over time. Eventually, it may keep you from doing many of the things you enjoy. It is a comprehensive term used to define progressive lung diseases such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, refractory (non-reversible) asthma, and some forms of bronchiectasis. But while COPD can’t be cured, the good news is that it can be treated. These diseases fall under this umbrella as they possess similar symptoms and can be irreversible.
How does COPD affect the lungs?
During COPD, different areas of the lungs get affected as the bronchial tubes become inflamed and narrowed. When you breathe out the lungs tend to collapse and get filled with mucus, as it causes airway obstruction.
The air sacs and airways lose their elastic traits, which hampers the oxygen intake of the lungs. Further, the airways are coated with mucus and the walls thicken and get inflamed.
COPD can become a life-threatening disease if not treated on time, as the actual cause of the disease is yet to be determined. However, doctors attribute smoking and air pollution as the main triggers. Further, the number of patients suffering from the disease tends to rise during the winter months due to the heavy air and increased pollution levels.
The main characteristic of COPD is a prolonged cough with extra sputum production and breathlessness. The disease tends to develop over the years and you can begin to see symptoms as the disease advances. Therefore, it is important to consult your doctor and take a spirometry test to rule out the disease and especially if you are a smoker. (Spirometry Leaflet)
Supplementing medicines with the right diet and exercise can help control the symptoms of the disease. Here are some tips that will help you eat well and stay in shape.
Eat a balanced diet
Increase your intake of protein and lower your carbohydrate intake. Eat protein-rich foods such as lean meat, poultry and fish—mainly oily fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines. Also, add fiber-rich whole grain foods such as bread bran, brown rice and oats. After checking for allergies add fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet to give you a regular supply of essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber according to Dr. Gayatri Thakoor, Weight Management Specialist, Fitness Island.
Eating salt rich foods can increase your sodium level, which leads to fluid retention. Fluid retention puts pressure on the lungs, which worsens your breathlessness.
Yoga is a great way to increase your lung capacity without taxing your body. With the help of various breathing exercises, you can improve your body health as your body begins to pump more oxygen, hydrating the body to create more energy to go about your daily activities. You can modify your yoga session to suit your needs.
“Yogic treatment can minimize attacks and severity, by building healthy respiratory system and having the perfect balance of mind and body through proper Yogic treatment with proper diet.” says Anjali Joglekar, Yoga Consultant, Master’s in Physical Education, BPCA college of physical education, University of Mumbai. She adds there are several yogic exercise that can help you live better with the disease “Anulom vilom, Bhramari Rechak (Emotional Balance, Relax and Rejuvenate Body and Mind.), Chakrasana, Setubandhasana and Bhujangasana are good exercises to practice.”
Stress and anxiety
Working in a stressful environment can also make you breathless, which can put pressure on your lungs and trigger an attack. It is essential to keep your mind calm and free of stress in order to keep the lungs healthy. “Back in the day, I could smoke close to three or four packets a day, depending on the intensity of stress levels. Sometimes, stress had nothing to do with it. I used to just crave for it. I started smoking at the age of 14 and quit only a couple years ago after I started to experience the effects of it.” Rajan Nambia, 65, Retired and living with COPD
For COPD patients, it is essential to keep active as the body needs to be moving, albeit don’t try and do things in a hurry or anything that would put pressure on the lungs or the heart.