The official blog of the Lung Institute.
Sometimes managing COPD symptoms just takes a new perspective.
For those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), often the most challenging aspect of the disease is the daily degradation of one’s quality of life as a result of symptoms. As with any chronic lung disease–in which symptoms will get progressively worse—associated COPD symptoms become gradually more difficult to manage and deal with. Although traditional COPD medications such as pills, inhalers and supplemental oxygen relieve these symptoms, the side effects can be overwhelming. However, natural treatment options do exist. With few options and a taxing set of COPD symptoms, what can you do to avoid exacerbations and improve your quality of life? You start with a plan.
With your health in mind, the Lung Institute is here to give you the breakdown on COPD Symptoms: and 5 Strategies to Combat Them.
COPD Symptoms: What Are They?
COPD can be affected by genetic history, smoking habits, living conditions, diet and exercise, as well as exposure to poor air quality—all of which can have a direct effect on the symptoms within a patient. Among COPD symptoms, those living with the disease can expect:
- Shortness of breath, especially during physical activities
- Chronic cough
- Chest tightness
- Excess mucus build-up
- Blueness of the lips of fingernail beds
- Frequent respiratory infections
- Unintended weight loss (in later stages)
- Swelling in ankles, feet or legs
COPD Symptoms and 5 Strategies to Combat Them
5. Change Up Your Diet
We’ve heard this many times, but in truth, diet is everything. The vitamins and nutrients we take directly correlate with our energy levels and feelings of fatigue, so it is important to eat the right foods and to drink plenty of water. When living with a chronic lung disease where breathlessness and fatigue are daily, giving your body all the resources it needs for the day is vital to your respiratory health. It can be difficult for anyone to maintain a perfectly balanced diet. A healthy diet can start simple: a light breakfast of fruits, eggs and toast, a balanced lunch of grains and vegetables (a sandwich and a salad), and a modest dinner of starches, meats, and more vegetables (grilled chicken, roasted potatoes, and green beans). The key to eating healthy is discipline. Sometimes forgoing what is convenient or our favorite is necessary for good or better health.
4. Clear Your Lungs
Excessive phlegm is one of the most noticeable and frustrating COPD symptoms. This buildup can be contribute to feeling short of breath and can lead to more fatigue and decreased mobility. To combat this, it’s important to clear the lungs often. But how? For starters, drink water. For most Americans, dehydration is an ongoing issue, and in order to clear mucus, your throat needs water. Doctors often recommend an expectorant (Robitussin, for example) to loosen mucus. Natural remedies such as orange peel teas, steam showers and singing can also help.
3. Increase Your Exercise
Sometimes the best things in life are a challenge. Exercise can be the key influencer in improving lung capacity and increasing energy levels. Although regular exercise can be difficult to implement—particularly for those with general fatigue and limited mobility—sometimes the only way out is up. Try to start your mornings with a few short exercises and build up from there. If walking to the mailbox is difficult, see if you can get to the mailbox and then try to go a little farther if you can. By setting a tangible goal and exceeding it little by little, you’ll be defying your expectations and building belief in yourself, all while making progress.
2. Improve Your Air Quality
Poor indoor air quality is one of the greatest contributors to lung disease symptoms. Whether it’s cigarette smoke from loved ones or smoke from a fireplace or stove, these air particulates can do a number on respiratory symptoms, degrading quality of life and increasing shortness of breath. To address this issue, it’s important to confront poor air quality directly. To start, remove any elements of cigarette smoking from your house. This means quit smoking yourself as well as require others not to smoke around you. Secondly, purifying the air in your home is vital. Try bamboo charcoal, a Himalayan salt lamp or simple household plants to remove impurities from the air and create a safer respiratory space for yourself moving forward.
1. Consider Natural and Alternative Treatments
A variety of natural and alternative treatment options may alleviate COPD symptoms without the adverse side-effects associated with traditional medication. Vitamin D has been linked to better performance in lung function tests and increased bone growth and strength. In eastern medicinal practice, ginseng root has shown a significant effect on respiratory health: improving the immune system, providing energy, reducing stress, promoting relaxation and even providing immune suppressive and anti-inflammatory effects. Aside from herbal supplements, advanced medicine using the body’s own immune system has gained prominence as cellular therapy continues to develop as a leading alternative for the treatment of COPD.
COPD symptoms are a difficult set of conditions to live with—especially if you’re trying to retain your normal life. Though COPD can seem impossible to overcome, changing one’s diet and consistently exercising are among the best lifestyle changes one can make, aside from quitting smoking. When lifestyle changes fail to improve your quality of life in the way that you may expect, it may be time to consider cellular therapy. Rather than addressing only the symptoms of lung disease, cellular therapy may directly affect disease progression and may improve quality of life and pulmonary function.
As in the case of Don C., cellular therapy can mean the difference between struggling to get out of bed and getting through his day to day without oxygen.
If you or a loved one has a chronic disease like COPD, PF, ILD or symptoms of lung disease, the Lung Institute may be able to help with a variety of adult cellular therapy options. Contact us today at (800) 729-3065 to see if you qualify for cellular therapy, and find out what cellular therapy could mean for you.
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