Be Aware that Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is: The 3rd largest killer worldwide after Cancer and Heart Disease. It’s number’s are increasing, and it is expected to become the 2nd largest killer within a decade. It is also the 2nd largest cause of disability.
Most people say I can’t get a breath in. In fact, the problem lies in not being able to get your last breath out of your lungs. Retaining that air, hinders your breathing and prevents you from getting more air in. That stale air steals space and stays trapped in our lungs preventing a fresh air intake. This failure to breath makes us retain oxygen and prohibits the removal of carbon dioxide.
Most people will talk to their doctor after suffering from constant cough and shortness of breath with mucus production. At this point most people have stopped exercising and have begun to live a sedentary lifestyle.
The doctor will order an x-ray along with a test called Spirometry. It measures FVC and FEV1.
Breathing out for as long as you can⇒ Forced Vital Capacity (FVC),
Breathing out as fast as you can for 1 second⇒ Forced Expiratory Volume 1 (FEV1).
FEV1 ÷ FVC, if you exhale less than 70% you have lung disease. It means that you can breath out 70% of what you inhaled. A much used tool called an Oximeter monitors 02 saturation levels and current heart rate.
Causes of COPD
It is a myth that only smokers get COPD. While smoking is a major cause, not all those that have COPD smoked and not all those that smoked got COPD. Other factors include second hand smoke, using open fires for cooking and heating, pollution and premature birth and normal aging.
During times of exacerbation, a worsening of symptoms, doctors may prescribe steroids and antibiotics.
Although rare, people as young as 20 have been diagnosed with COPD usually with a genetic version called Alpha 1. It is more common to be diagnosed after age 40 as your lungs naturally begin to show signs a aging.
Quitting smoking, regular exercise and good nutrition are the three best things you can do to help yourself. Doctors are documenting some recovery in lung function for those that stay the course with exercise. It is wise to attend a respiratory rehabilitation program to increase lean muscle tone and learn proper breathing exercises. Have a frank talk to your doctor about these options.
Flu and Pneumonia Vaccines
Get a flu shot once a year and the pneumonia shot as often as necessary. Talk to your doctor for the best advice. COPD leaves most people susceptible to triggers from bacterial or viral infections that can be deadly. Environment factors such as pet dander, pollen and dust should also be considered. I track this everyday through my weather app.
Early Diagnosis is Important
The earlier your diagnosis, the better your treatment will be. Waiting to be diagnosed can cause permanent damage to your heart. Your lungs are part of your cardiovascular system and avoiding heart problems along with high blood pressure should be paramount to your overall wellbeing. Many patients with COPD have a hard time coming to grips with the lifestyle changes and can suffer from depression.
STOP smoking, exercise daily and attend a respiratory rehab program. Eat 6 small meals a day packed with nutrition such as protein from eggs and lean meats and potassium and magnesium from fruits and root vegetables. Work on keeping your thoughts positive by practicing Mindfulness and Meditation.
The good news is that most doctors agree that your life expectancy is unchanged because of COPD and many are now believed to have it for over 25 years and are still around to tell the story.
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