Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is one of the leading causes of morbidity in the world. It’s a disease characterized by irreversible damage to the lungs and the airways, typically the result of years of smoking or exposure to air pollution like car exhaust, chemicals, or dust.
If you’ve already been diagnosed with COPD, you’ve probably been prescribed medical oxygen or medication such as inhaled corticosteroids or bronchodilators by your doctor. However, did you know that there are a whole host of natural remedies you can use at home to help alleviate COPD symptoms?
While it’s unlikely we’ll see a “cure” for COPD anytime soon, natural home remedies are one of the most effective ways to reduce symptoms like shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, and chest pain. And the best part is, they’re very easy to implement into your life. Try the following remedies to treat COPD at home.
Your body needs a diverse array of nutrients to stay healthy. Most of the time, you want to get these through your food, however, in certain situations, the use of vitamin supplements are advised. As a COPD patient, you may need to consider taking vitamin A,C,D, or E supplements.
Vitamin A– is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in the immune system, vision, and the reproductive system. Vitamin A is beneficial for COPD patients because the body uses it to build and repair lung tissue.
Vitamin C– is known to reduce skeletal muscle fatigue and oxidative stress, an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants in the body.
Vitamin E– is used to help prevent cell damage, improve blood vessel function, and boost the immune system, all of which promote healthy lung function.
Vitamin D– is stored in fatty tissues and the liver. Many COPD patients are Vitamin D deficient, but it may help to prevent exacerbations by boosting immune response to respiratory virus and prevent osteoporosis which can make COPD more difficult to deal with.
While vitamins play an important role in managing COPD, you need to make sure you’re getting the right balance of each. Speak with your pulmonologist, and he/she may send you to speak with a nutritionist.
Did you know that indoor air quality can be 2 to 5 times more polluted than outdoor air? That’s enough to make anyone cringe, let alone someone with a respiratory disease!
Indoor air can be unsafe to breathe because it’s so concentrated. If you spray a cleaning product, it lingers in the air and is absorbed by the carpet or furniture. On the other hand, chemicals are able to dissipate outdoors allowing you to breathe easier.
So, if you want to improve indoor air quality you should clean more frequently, and more importantly, ensure you only use safe cleaning products. Avoid cleaning products with triclosan, phthalates, dioxane, and strong fragrances. Instead, opt for products that use hydrogen peroxide or other natural substances as a disinfectant.
Exercise is a key component of pulmonary rehabilitation programs, used by pulmonologists to help their patients recover quicker. But you don’t need to be a part of one of these programs to benefit from exercise.
While many people in the country have difficulty getting weight off, COPD patients often suffer with the opposite. According to the Cleveland Clinic, COPD patients burn up to 10 times as many calories just by breathing. By exercising regularly, these people can maintain their muscle and pulmonary function and in turn, breathe easier.
The key with exercise is to not overdo it. Exercising too hard or too frequently can leave you feeling fatigued, out of breath, and can even cause COPD exacerbations, so it’s better to play it safe and ease yourself into it. One simple way to do this is by learning breathing exercises which can help boost your pulmonary capacity.
Getting a poor night’s sleep will leave you feeling groggy, sleepy, and restless, but for a COPD patient, it could be far worse. According to many medical professionals, sleep disruption can impair your immune system and increase systemic inflammation which contribute to the onset of COPD exacerbations.
If you’re having trouble getting to sleep at night, you may have sleep apnea or some other condition that affects your sleep patterns. It’s best to address these with your doctor sooner rather than later so that you can start having restful sleep again. However, if it’s simply a matter of getting to bed early enough, you should take care to get at least 8 hours of sleep each night.
Last, but certainly not least, hydration is a must for treating COPD, and any other lung condition for that matter. Not only does every cell in your body needs water to function, but water is what regulates the consistency of mucus, phlegm, and sputum. When you are dehydrated, these substances become think and aren’t cleared from the airways properly. This leads to difficulty breathing and can even contribute to acute respiratory illness.
Although COPD is a non-curable disease, there are plenty of home remedies that can help alleviate its symptoms. Next time you’re experiencing heavy coughing, wheezing, or shortness of breath, try some of the tips above. If you have any questions about your pulmonary health or your treatment plan, be sure to consult your pulmonologist.
Image credit: Robina Weermeijer