Between 10 and 20 million people in the United States suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. Respiratory illness also makes up the third most common cause of death in the country. While there is currently no cure for COPD, there are ways to stop the spread of damage and live a more normal life. In addition to medical support from pulmonary care services in Birmingham, here are 5 ways to help manage your symptoms at home.
Smoking is by far the leading cause of COPD. If you still smoke, get help quitting right away. Talk to other members in your family who smoke to help them quit or limit their smoking to outside the house. Secondhand smoke can be just as dangerous to you as continuing to smoke yourself.
Other types of air pollution can also make your COPD worse. Limit your exposure to chemicals on the job and stay out of highly polluted cities. Don’t use your fireplace and use air filters at home to remove dust, chemicals, and other foreign bodies from the air.
Practice New Breathing Techniques
Your doctor or respiratory therapist can show you new breathing techniques to lessen symptoms like coughing and wheezing. The 2 most common breathing techniques are pursed lip breathing and diaphragmatic breathing. These techniques increase oxygen levels in your blood while reducing your shortness of breath.
Avoid Temperature Extremes
Very cold and very hot air can trigger COPD symptoms. Stay inside as much as possible during extreme weather and make sure your house stays at the right level of humidity. Too much or too little moisture in the air can make it more difficult to breathe. Use a humidifier or dehumidifier when necessary, especially during the winter and summer.
Watch What You Eat
A healthy diet can often help reduce symptoms of COPD. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to ensure your body gets all the vitamins and minerals it needs. Cut out as much sugar as possible, as well as other unnecessary additives like food dyes and preservatives. Also do your best to avoid dairy, since this increases the mucus that makes breathing so difficult.
Drinking plenty of water is also important to managing your COPD symptoms. On the other hand, it’s important to avoid excessive alcohol consumption, since it can make your symptoms worse or interfere with medications you may be taking. Always ask your doctor how much alcohol is safe to consume.
Although it may sound like the last thing you want to do when you’re having a hard time breathing, regular aerobic exercise can help you manage your COPD in the long run. You should always consult with your pulmonary care services in Birmingham before beginning any new exercise routine to make sure it’s safe. In general, start slow and work your way up to more difficult exercises as you are able. Over time, this will help your circulation system work more effectively and improve oxygen flow through your body, both of which will help reduce your COPD symptoms.
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