If you’ve been smoking since you were in your teen years, you may feel frequently out of breath once you get older. You could already have Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD. This happens to a lot of heavy smokers when they age.
When you breathe, air travels down from your nose and mouth down through your airways to your lungs. When you have COPD, your airways are obstructed and lung tissues are damaged.
The disease covers two conditions: emphysema and chronic bronchitis, which affect slightly different parts of the lungs. Some of its symptoms include coughing, increased phlegm, and breathlessness.
So what causes COPD? Tobacco smoke is implicated to majority of the cases. This means that the condition is largely preventable by not smoking. Other known causes include air pollution and chemical fumes from the environment and workplace.
Currently, this has no cure, but there are many ways to help manage the symptoms and improve your quality of life. You may slow down the decline of your body’s health if you just stop smoking.
So, it is essential to quit the habit even after diagnosis. Remember, it is never too late to start caring for yourself.
Many people with COPD do less and less exercise in their belief that being breathless and tired harms their lungs and heart, and that it is better to keep both rested. This, of course, is not the case.
If you don’t exercise, your muscles will weaken and over time, you will become less physically able. On the other hand, with regular exercise, your muscles can do more work on less oxygen. It takes time to build up your fitness, of course, but if you stay as active as you can, you achieve more before breathlessness makes you stop. Exercise should be enjoyable.
Choose something you like to do and can do frequently. Walking is ideal and you can begin by going as far as you can without becoming too distressed. Increase your distance as your body and endurance improve.
Your doctor should asses you before you start on an exercise program, in case there are reasons why you shouldn’t. Taking a puff of your reliever inhaler before the activity may help you do more.
Moreover, it is very easy to lose your appetite if you’re frequently breathless. It may even be difficult to make the effort to cook good food. But you must eat well. Look at your diet as part of the treatment. Much energy is required by your body to breathe, and your diet must provide this.
If you are overweight, you need to lose the unwanted pounds to ease the load on your lungs and muscles. For information on what to eat, you also have your doctor for this.
Seek help and tell your family and friends which activities you need help with and which ones you can manage on your own. Because so much energy is needed for your daily tasks, you can become very focused on yourself. Be aware of this, keep in touch with friends, and pursue your normal interests.
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