How to Avoid COPD
If you have COPD and go untreated, you are at a much higher risk to develop conditions like heart disease or lung cancer. That’s why it’s so important to learn how to avoid COPD.
What is COPD and What Causes it?
COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is a common, chronic inflammatory disease of the lungs. It is often categorized in one of two main forms: chronic bronchitis or emphysema.
Chronic Bronchitis COPD
Chronic Bronchitis occurs when your bronchial tubes become inflamed and begin producing a lot of mucus, leading to long-term coughing with mucus and difficulty breathing.
Emphysema occurs when the lungs have become damaged over time. The damage causes the air sacs of the lungs to enlarge and stretch, and the individual suffers from breathlessness.
COPD is caused by consistent exposure to irritants in the air. Several symptoms of COPD are:
- Difficulty breathing
- Ongoing coughs that produce mucus
Avoid COPD by Knowing the Triggers
While triggers for COPD can be widely varied, there are three that are the most common.
Avoid COPD by Maintaining Your Physical Health
Like with most illnesses, physical health plays a large and vital role in how likely you are to suffer from an illness as well as how quickly you can recover. If you’ve ever had a cough last much longer than your cold, you can understand how easily it can be to fall victim to breathing difficulties due to sickness.
When it comes to avoiding COPD, it’s important to take extra precautions with your health. Try to avoid the common cold or flu as much as possible. You can do this by taking extra vitamin C during peak seasons, maintaining a healthy diet, and keeping up to date on the latest vaccinations – especially your annual flu shot.
If you do succumb to a cold or flu, it’s especially important to allow your body adequate time to recover. Don’t push yourself back into your normal routine too quickly. Get the rest you need so as to not exacerbate the symptoms and create problems with COPD down the road.
Avoid COPD by Being Cognizant of the Weather
While you can’t control the weather, you can be more intentional about how you participate outside in the elements. While you might only thing that cold weather can produce complications from COPD, extreme heat can also be a culprit.
Be mindful throughout the year when you head outdoors. Make sure to bundle up and limit your time outside in the cold. On the same hand, minimize your time under direct sunlight and ensure you stay hydrated.
Pollution in the air has been found to be a large trigger for COPD. This can be attributed to outdoor pollution as well as dust, mold, and fumes indoors. If you want to avoid COPD, it’s important to pay attention to the air around you. Limit your time outdoors when pollution levels are high. Keep your home clean and maintained. While pollution isn’t altogether avoidable, the better your can protect yourself against it, the better your odds are of avoiding COPD.
Avoid COPD by Quitting Smoking or Staying Away from Second-Hand Smoke
Cigarette smoke is the leading cause of COPD. Up to 75% of people who have COPD either smoke or used to smoke. If you are a smoker, quit smoking now. It is the MOST important step you can take to avoid COPD.
Second-hand smoke is just as lethal of a risk factor for COPD as first-hand smoke. Even if you aren’t a smoker yourself, it’s essential to stay away from exposure to second-hand smoke. This includes smoke from cigars and pipe tobacco as well.
Think You Might Have COPD? Get Treated Now.
While COPD is a serious disease of the lungs, it can be highly manageable when properly treated. If you or someone you love is experiencing signs or symptoms of COPD, visit with a doctor right away.
For more information about pulmonary health and respiratory care, check out this blog from Elmhurst Extended Care Center’s Respiratory Therapist.