Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): Symptoms, treatment & Diet

COPD symptoms and treatment

With the pollution increasing at the fastest pace, it is not surprising that more and more people are visiting the doctor’s clinic complaining of bronchitis and breathing issues. Breathing in the toxic pollution results in progressive lung diseases called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The most common of COPD are chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Most of the people with COPD suffer from both these conditions.


Cause of COPD

COPD takes a long time to develop and the common causes of developing COPD are –

  • Prolonged years of Smoking
  • Secondhand smoke
  • Poorly ventilated homes that lead to inhaling cooking fuel
  • Deficiency in a protein called alpha-1-antitrypsin


Common Symptoms of COPD

COPD makes it harder for you to inhale properly. In the initial stages, the symptoms are very mild like occasional coughing and shortness of breath. But gradually the symptoms start getting more intense making it difficult for you to inhale a full breath. You will also experience tightness around your chest coupled with wheezing.

Early symptoms of COPD are similar to that of a cough and cold:

  • Shortness of breath especially after exercise
  • A mild but persistent cough
  • Need to clear throat in the morning

These symptoms get worse over time and it will be difficult for you to ignore them any longer. The lungs get more damaged you experience symptoms like:

  • Shortness of breath even after walking a short distance or climbing a short flight of stairs
  • Increased wheezing
  • Tightness in chest
  • Chronic cough
  • Mucus accumulation in lungs
  • Frequent cough, cold, flu, and other respiratory infections
  • Exhaustion

As the stage of COPD worsens, you may experience symptoms like:

  • Weight loss
  • Swelling in hands, feet, and ankles

You will need immediate medical attention if any of these happens:

  • Bluish or grey beds of fingernails and lips, indicating a low level of oxygen in the blood
  • Trouble breathing and inability to talk
  • Feeling confused and muddled
  • Racing heart


Treatment for COPD

After getting diagnosed with COPD, the doctor will start treatment that will ease symptoms, prevent complication and slow down the progression of the disease.

  • Medications will be administered to relax the muscles of the airways and reduce inflammation. Your doctor may also recommend you getting a flu shot or a pneumococcal vaccine to lower risk of other respiratory infections
  • Oxygen therapy through a mask or nasal cannula is also used at times if you have a low blood oxygen level
  • Surgery might also be required if your COPD is advanced and medications fail. Lung transplantation is also considered in severe cases
  • You may also be advised against some lifestyle habits like smoking and adopt certain good habits like using an anti-pollution dust mask, and a diet change


Best food to eat when you have COPD

For COPD, there is no specific diet but it is important that you must have a healthy diet to maintain an overall good respiratory health. If you have a stronger immune system, it will be easy for you to fight off respiratory infections and complications.

  • Eat lots of fruits, veggies, dairy, grains, and protein
  • Drink fluids and fresh juices, ginger tea and green tea
  • Avoid coffee and other carbonated drinks
  • Limit salt intake
  • Maintain a healthy body weight


If you face any difficulty with breathing or experience constant mucus buildup in your lungs, talk to a pulmonologist about your lung health.




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