Living with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) can be an extremely difficult task. COPD is a group of progressive lung diseases, which have frequent flare ups and living a normal life for the patient can be very difficult.
Emphysema and Chronic bronchitis are two of most common COPD diseases in the world. Patients of COPD have a hard time breathing and with frequent flare ups, the patient can have difficulty completing the most mundane of tasks, such as taking a shower, going to the toilet, getting groceries or managing other day-to-day activities.
1. COPD and breathing
COPD slowly affects the lungs, compromising the ability of the patient to breathe to the full capacity by damaging the lungs.
The bronchial tubes of COPD patients become inflamed. This makes the air passageways narrower, making the tubes susceptible to collapsing while breathing out. Furthermore, a common symptom of COPD is the severe coughing due to the build-up of mucus. The mucus then can also create blockages in the air passageways, resulting in the reduction of the patient’s ability to breathe.
With the Inflammation of the air tubes, the nerve system of the lungs becomes overly sensitive. In this condition the body tries to pass air rapidly to excrete the mucus, clogging the air passageways, resulting in cough. This is known as smokers cough.
Due to the compromised lung functionality, the patient isn’t able to extract the required amount of oxygen in the blood, making her feel weak and tired.
2. How to manage COPD
COPD is a chronic illness, but with dedication and determination, it can be managed to improve the life of the patient as best as possible.
- Quit smoking
The harms of smoking are a common knowledge by now. But if you have COPD, you need to quit smoking right away. If you face great difficulty in quitting smoking, you can consult a specialist who will point out other healthy activities you can use to help with withdrawals.
- Eat healthy
Eating healthy is of the utmost importance in managing COPD. Eating healthy not only enables your body to gain strength, it also helps to keep the Inflammation away; easing the stress on the lungs.
- Taking medicines correctly
Taking medication at the appropriate times and following strictly the drug regimen given by the physician are of utmost importance. This not only keeps your health intact, but it will also help the doctors determine the changes required in your treatment.
3. Respiratory training
One of the most important things a person with COPD can do is to start with respiratory training. This can greatly enhance breathing capacity and help retrain the muscles (diaphragm, lungs etc.) to strengthen their functionality. Techniques such as pursed lips breathing, belly breathing, lung muscle training are some of the trainings used.
4. Building mental resilience
COPD is linked with depression. Just like any chronic illness, it can be hard for patients to accept that their lives will never be the same. Furthermore, due to the extreme limitations of COPD and the lifestyle changes that occur after the diagnosis, patients are at a huge risk of developing depression. This can increase the difficulty in building resilience of patients and making sure that they stick to the drug regime and keep a positive outlook on life.
If the patient of COPD slips into depression, it is important to keep them engaged in healthy activities such as light exercising, engaging with friends, therapy sessions and medications as per the doctors recommendations. But, most important is to provide them the required mental and emotional support they need.
Living with COPD is one of the hardest possible things in life. It alters the individual’s life in such a drastic way that at times it is very difficult to accept their new reality. But, the only way forward is to take each day for what it is, to follow the doctors advice, strictly follow the drug regimen and keep affirming your resolve on a day to day basis. Because living life in the best possible way within the confines of our limitations is the only option we have got.