Coping with asthma and COPD is extremely difficult and only the patients suffering through such chronic illness can understand the distressing feeling of shortness of breath that you can never get used to. People with COPD can have varying abilities when it comes to shortness of breath. Some experience it after moderate exercise and some ask for oxygen while walking across the room. Thus, it is absolutely vital that you get a professional opinion about your condition.
The symptoms of asthma and COPD are somewhat similar. Asthma is a respiratory disease but often is mistaken for COPD as they have a common symptom of shortness of breath. On the other hand, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD is a general term to describe respiratory diseases such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema. COPD is not curable; however, you can live with it without compromising your quality of life. Here are some measures that you can make part of your life to cope with such chronic respiratory diseases.
1. Quit smoking
Giving up the addiction of nicotine is the best favor you can do to your lungs. There are various methods to help quit smoking, including medication, counseling, self-help groups, and nicotine replacement therapy. In addition, e-cigarettes are harmful even though it does not contain tar or smoke. It contains other ingredients such as flavorings, that may cause harmful effects on your lungs and worsen your asthma or COPD.
2. Diet and moderate exercise
It becomes a herculean task to exercise if you are suffering from shortness of breath. However, eating a healthy diet and regular exercise is important to maintain your fitness. People suffering from COPD or asthma shouldn’t be too thin or too heavy. If you’re skinny, then you might not get enough nutrients to perform daily tasks and if you’re overweight, your heart and lungs have to work harder to pump oxygen and supply it to your body. However, consult a dietician before you start a strict diet.
3. Take medications under medical supervision
Most people take medications to help with occasional or regular breathing problems. You must consult your doctor and start a drug treatment plan that is tailored for your conditions. There are novel drugs to deal with asthma and COPD owing to rapid technological advancements in the treatment of such chronic diseases. According to Allied Market Research, global asthma and COPD drugs market is projected to reach $50.36 billion by 2022, registering CAGR of 3.7% during the period 2016–2022.
4. Use oxygen wisely
For some COPD or asthma patients, oxygen therapy is necessary to improve their breathing capabilities. Oxygen does not harm your lungs or body if used properly and it also allows you to be more active. Some patients refrain from using oxygen as it looks unattractive. However, if you are struggling through severe asthma, lack of oxygen may damage your lungs and worsen the condition.
5. Avoid infections and pollutants
If you are a patient of COPD, there is a high risk of lung infections. Thus, get vaccinated frequently. For instance, the influenza vaccine is recommended per year and the pneumonia vaccine is recommended after every 5 to 7 years. Wash your hands frequently to prevent germ infection. Avoid bad air and use an air filter in your house or air conditioning to beat allergens and pollutants.
6. Practice breathing techniques
The most important way to cope with shortness of breath is to retrain yourself with new breathing techniques, including diaphragmatic breathing and pursed lip breathing. In diaphragmatic breathing technique, breathe in slowly through your nose and push your stomach out while breathing in. This technique uses the diaphragm and the lower respiratory muscles. In pursed lip breathing method, use the same technique while breathing in and when you breathe out, purse lips slightly as if you are going to whistle and breathe out slowly without forcing the air out.
The most important thing to remember while dealing with any chronic illness is to maintain a positive attitude and do not give up on yourself. Air is one of the basic needs of a human; COPD and asthma directly oppose the ability to breathe. However, there are several patients that have been living a healthy life without feeling powerless against asthma or COPD. You can live a happy life too. First, learn about your disease, how much severe it is and have regular check-ups with your doctors. It is utterly essential that you know every detail about your condition and how it can impact on your life. Only then, you can take the necessary steps to prevent it and take charge of your life and live life to the fullest.
Swamini Kulkarni holds a bachelor’s degree in Instrumentation and control engineering from Pune University, and works as a content writer at Progressive Markets. She is deeply fascinated by the impact of technology on human life, and loves to talk about science and mythology. When she is not glued to the computer, she loves to read, travel, and day dream about her areas of interest.