Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a condition that impedes airflow and causes breathing-related challenges. It affects more than 16 million people in the U.S. and includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
Receiving a COPD diagnosis is daunting, especially given the chronic nature of the disease. Yet, there are lifestyle modifications and medications available to help you maintain quality of life and stay active following a diagnosis.
First, you’ll want to receive a definitive diagnosis. A single x-ray or doctor’s visit won’t be enough to confirm COPD; you’ll also need a lung function test such as spirometry. Being accurately diagnosed is critical to pursuing proper treatment.
If your diagnosis has been confirmed, here are some starting points you can consider for COPD management.
Smoking cessation won’t reverse the damage that’s already been done. With that being said, smoking cessation can slow the deterioration of the lungs in COPD, while also improving current lung function and reducing symptoms. In particular, patients often experience reduced congestion, cough, fatigue, and shortness of breath. Smoking cessation is believed to be the most important step towards slowing COPD’s progression, so make a plan to quit if you haven’t already.
Consider dietary changes.
Maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce the strain on your lungs. Plus, a nutritious, varied diet can help fuel your body so you feel your best. Some people with COPD find that eating a diet with fewer carbohydrates and increased fat helps reduce the amount of carbon dioxide and increase oxygen, leading to easier breathing. Try getting two good sources of protein daily, such as eggs, poultry, or fish, and minimizing the intake of processed foods.
Even though exercise may seem daunting, it has significant benefits for people with COPD. It can help your body use oxygen more effectively, increase energy levels, improve sleep, and combat anxiety or stress. Resistance training, aerobic exercise such as walking, and stretching are all beneficial options to consider. Always check with your physician prior to beginning an exercise regimen.
Know your treatment options.
There are medications available to control symptoms and minimize the strain put on the lungs. These could include bronchodilators, which relax the muscles surrounding the airways to make breathing easier. With that said, medications will be most effective when coupled with lifestyle modifications.
You might also consider alternative or complementary therapies to explore all possible treatment options. Regenerative medicine, also known as stem cell therapy, is one that many have considered to help manage their symptoms of COPD.
This post was written by a medical professional at Stemedix Inc. At Stemedix we provide access to Regenerative Medicine. Regenerative medicine has the natural potential to help improve symptoms sometimes lost from the progression of many conditions.