Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is a lung disease whereby the airways become narrowed leading to a limitation on the flow of Oxygen into and Carbon Dioxide out of the body. It is mostly caused by smoking or lack of a protein called alpha-1 antitrypsin. Its main symptom is shortness of breath, but others include coughing, fatigue, production of mucus and wheezing. There is no cure for COPD, but various things can be done to relieve the symptoms and stop the disease from getting worse. Exercise and diet can be one of the major activities in managing this disease.
Exercise training rehabilitates the body’s pulmonary system and helps in improving the physical quality and capacity of life. (Erwin, Hanney, Hyland & Jones, 2004). Aerobics exercises such as walking, cycling and resistance exercises such as lifting weights, can help restore and sustain functional independence in COPD patients. This is because inactivity in a COPD patient leads to declining of the cardiovascular function and the skeleton muscle mass. This leads to greater breathlessness with exertion, muscular fatigue, loss of functioning freedom as an individual, and depression. It is therefore, very advisable for COPD patients to take part in exercising as it enables them to maintain their physical capacity and therefore continue running their day-to-day activities. Physical fitness moreover, desensitizes the patient to the fact that they normally have shortness of breath, and they learn to accept that, thus leading to them living a normal lifestyle. In addition, researchers have proven that patients who tend to do a lot of exercise show better performance on tests of verbal fluency signifying that regular exercises increase blood flow to the brain to enhance cognitive function.
Shortness of breath being the major symptom of COPD; may cause a patient to lose their appetite. However, a well-nourished body is vital in trying to manage the disease. A well-nourished body is made up of a balanced diet, which consists of proteins and fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and plenty of water. A person suffering from COPD should acquire such a diet. Patients are advised to eat more of proteins and fats than carbohydrates as they are bodybuilding foods and will thus play a major role in increasing the blood supply in the body, leading to production of more oxygen, which is in high demand in the body. On the other hand, carbohydrates tend to lead to accumulation of more Carbon Dioxide in the body, which will make the patient exhale harder to emit it. This will lead to more shortness of breath. Nutritionists advice consumption of commercial food supplements which contain less of carbohydrates and more of proteins and fats.
Taking multi-vitamins and minerals is helpful as it helps in repairing of the walls of the air sacs in the lungs since at times, the oxygen in the body changes to toxic forms. They act as antioxidants by detoxifying the poisonous forms of oxygen. Water and other fluid intake allow the body to thin the mucus and phlegm making it easier to cough it out. Fluid intake should however, be less at night to reduce the frequency of one urinating that may disrupt the sleep (Erwin, Hanney, Hyland & Jones, 2004). Persons suffering from COPD should take small meals regularly. This will take care of the problem of finding it difficult to eat thus, they will not burn their breathing muscles for eating purposes.
In conclusion, exercise, healthy diet and proper healthcare, lead to a healthy lifestyle, despite having COPD. However, dangerous forms of physical fitness such as mountain climbing and skydiving should be avoided, as they tend to increase the breathing rate. Food such as dairy products should be avoided, as they tend to thicken the mucus.
Erwin, J. C., Hyland, M. E., Hanney, K., & Jones, R. C (January 01, 2004). A qualitative study of compliance with medication and lifestyle modification in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Primary Care Respiratory Journal : Journal of the General Practice Airways Group, 13, 3, 149-54.
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