If you suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), you know how every breath can be a struggle. COPD, the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, occurs when diseases, such as chronic bronchitis or emphysema, cause airway obstruction.
Symptoms of COPD include a chronic cough, increased mucus production, shortness of breath, wheezing, chest tightness and recurrent respiratory infections – but these may not appear until major lung damage has already occurred.
Most cases are caused by smoke exposure. Smoking accounts for up to 90 percent of COPD deaths. Other risk factors include being 40 or older, being exposed to work-related dust and chemicals and having a rare genetic disorder known as alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency.
|Reginald Shilo is back to enjoying life and playing his
clarinet, thanks to the pulmonary rehabilitation services
he received at Baptist Beaumont Hospital.
While you cannot undo lung damage, you can reduce symptoms. Your physician will likely urge you to quit smoking, which can help keep your condition from worsening. Talk with him or her about smoking-cessation tools and medications. Drugs like bronchodilators and inhaled steroids can help ease respiration, and antibiotics can help fight infections that aggravate COPD.
For moderate to more severe cases, additional measures such as portable oxygen tanks, rehabilitation programs or surgery to remove damaged portions of the lung may be recommended.
Lighten the load on your lungs
You do have some control over how you feel. Try these COPD self-help measures:
- Control breathing. Talk to your physician about relaxation and breathing techniques to help maximize your airflow.
- Keep airways clear. Drink plenty of water and use a humidifier in your home to help loosen mucus in your lungs.
- Exercise. A regular workout can help build up your respiratory muscles.
- Eat healthfully. Nutritious foods can help you maintain your strength and control your weight. Excess weight makes it harder to breathe.
- Avoid smoke. Do not light up, and avoid secondhand smoke, which can cause further lung damage.
Pulmonary rehabilitation: Improving quality of life
The experienced staff at Baptist Beaumont Hospital’s Outpatient Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program uses education, physical conditioning and other strategies to help adults and children who suffer from lung conditions, including:
- chronic bronchitis
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- lung cancer
Any physician may refer a patient into the program. Our staff will verify your insurance coverage and work with you to set up a convenient therapy schedule. For more information, call (409) 212-5870.