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13 Natural Treatments for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a problem for almost 13 million Americans, and it’s the third leading cause of death in the U.S. This respiratory problem, which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema, significantly impairs the life quality of sufferers.

Even though there’s no cure for COPD, there are certain treatments you can do at home, different than bronchodilators, steroids, and the usual antibiotics, which can improve the symptoms and even hold back the damage to the lungs.

1. Lifestyle Changes

Although the lung damage caused by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease can’t be undone, thy symptoms of this serious progressive condition can be managed. Lower your risk of complications, control your discomfort, and improve your life quality by following some simple steps.

2. Quit Smoking

Smoking is the cause of COPD for approximately 90% of the patients, according to the American Thoracic Society (ATS). The first and most important change in the lifestyle of a smoker COPD patient should be quitting this harmful habit, in order to ease the symptoms of the disease. Smokers with this disease lose lung tissue much faster than nonsmokers, so if they quit smoking, they will reduce the rate of loss.

They can join support groups or smoking cessation programs, or they can consult their doctor for advice that will help them in this quitting period. Nevertheless, it’s important all COPD sufferers avoid places where other people smoke and places with air pollution.

3. Stay Active

The second most important thing to do at home that will help you manage the COPD symptoms is staying physically active. Although you may think that exercise is counterproductive when it comes to a breathing problem, Mayo Clinic explains that regular exercise can in fact improve your breathing and your general endurance and strength, by strengthening your respiratory muscles. You can try any activity that involves moving, like walking, golfing, gardening, and even shopping.

4. Eat Right

Your breathing can be significantly improved by consuming healthy food and keeping proper weight. However, some COPD sufferers can have trouble keeping proper weight, since their breathing problems will cause them to burn more calories than normal, so a lot of COPD patients are underweight. On the other hand, a great deal of COPD patients is overweight, as a result of lack of exercise or nutritional imbalance. There’s no need for a special diet for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Nevertheless, ATS advises consuming a healthy variety of foods in smaller but more frequent meals, limiting the intake of salt, to help these people maintain a proper weight.

5. Develop Good Medication-Taking Habits

Your habits at home can contribute to the success of the treatment recommended by your doctor. Make sure you understand everything about the prescribed COPD medication before leaving your doctor’s office, such as the exact reason, dosage, time, and manner of taking the drug. Always check your inhaler, and avoid leaving it completely empty, but refill it while there’s still some in it. Consult your doctor if you notice that some medicine is causing your problems, but never stop taking it on your own.

6. Take Care of Emotions

Anger, grief, Healthline, and anxiety are just some of the normal emotions that you might feel when experiencing COPD. But, you can do something to manage them, like staying involved with others, keeping up with activities that you like, or going out for a walk, as explained by the Cleveland Clinic. If you have problems coping on your own, ask for your doctor’s advice for another form of treatment or professional counseling.

7. Reduce Stress

Since stress can aggravate symptoms of COPD such as shortness of breath, you should try to control the level of stress in your life. Although you may not be able to avoid all stress, you can try to avoid stressful activities/situations and practice being more relaxed and calm. As AARC advises, you can take some time in the day to relax, both mentally and physically with a nap, reading quietly, listening to soothing music, or doing another thing that you enjoy.

8. Get More Information

Although home remedies can improve how you feel, don’t forget to consult your doctor regularly for easier management of your COPD symptoms. Follow the advice from your doctor, since the steps you take now can improve your breathing and extend your life.

9. Protect Yourself

A person with COPD should always avoid situations that might exacerbate their symptoms, such as going out in the cold. The reason for this is that cold air might cause a sudden constriction in the muscles of airway walls, leading to a lack of breath, known as bronchospasm. If you still have to go out in cold weather, make sure you wear a col-air face mask. Another situation to avoid is being in crowded places, as respiratory infections can worsen the symptoms of COPD. But if you must be in such places, Mayo Clinic advises wearing a surgical mask.

10. Control Breathing

You can help your breathing efficiency with certain relaxation techniques and breathing positions. Pursed-lip and diaphragmatic breathing may raise the levels of blood oxygen and help decrease the shortness of breath, as explained by the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC). To learn these techniques, ask a respiratory therapist or your doctor. Moreover, to keep your airways clear of mucus, Mayo Clinic advises using a humidifier and drinking a lot of fluids.

11. Mucus-Clearing Supplements

People with the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease have increased secretion of mucus. Accumulation of mucus in the lungs blocks the airways and it’s an ideal ground for bacteria, raising the risk of other infections like pneumonia. A natural method to get rid of the excess mucus is coughing, which is one of the major symptoms of this disease. But as COPD progresses, shortness of breath doesn’t allow a productive cough.

For this reason, a helpful COPD treatment involves oral agents which thin the extra mucus. Oral agents that break the mucus down are mucolytics like N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), whose recommended daily dosage is 1,200 mg, or expectorants which liquefy the mucus, like SSKI (a liquid form of potassium iodide) in a recommended dosage of 3 to 6 drops in water, 2 to 3 times a day.

12. Boosting the Levels of Glutathione

Not only that NAC breaks down the excess mucus, but it also increases the levels of the natural antioxidant glutathione –the major defender of the respiratory tract against oxidative stress. The most effective method to take glutathione is to inhale it via a nebulizer several times a day in 5 to 10-minute treatments. You need a prescription for inhaled glutathione, beginning with 300 mg (200 mg/cc, draw 1.5 cc in nebulizer) twice a day. Patients with sulfite-sensitive asthma should be careful since this therapy might cause bronchoconstriction.

13. Other COPD Treatments

500 milligrams of magnesium 1-2 times a day relaxes and opens the airways; 500 to 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C couple of times a day increases the levels of glutathione, and 2,000 to 5,000 milligrams of high-quality fish oil a day lowers the inflammation.

Since estrogen enhances the function of the lungs, women should also think of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy.

Via ERS |  Medical News Today | Mayo Clinic

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