How to live a fulfilling life with COPD thanks to physiotherapy

What COPD looks likes.PHOTO: supplied
What COPD looks likes.PHOTO: supplied

WHAT IS COPD?

COPD stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. COPD is a progressive disease that makes it hard to breathe.

COPD means that you suffer from any of the following, or a combination of any of the three, below:

• Chronic bronchitis

• Emphysema

• Asthma

COPD causes your airways to become obstructed and can result in coughing that produces large amounts of phlegm, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightness, making it very difficult to breathe at times.

Other symptoms include frequent chest infections, lack of energy, blueness of the lips or fingernail beds (cyanosis) and swelling in ankles, feet or legs.

Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of COPD, i.e. most people who have COPD smoke currently or used to smoke. Long term exposure to other lung irritants, such as air pollution, chemical fumes, or dust, also may contribute to COPD.

COPD is not a reversible condition and has no cure yet, but conservative treatment for COPD can slow its progression.

THE AIM OF PHYSIOTHERAPY

• Prevent and treat complications of the disease such as to remove excess phlegm and reduce airway obstruction

• Relieve symptoms to slow the progression of the disease

• Improve exercise tolerance (ability to stay active)

• Educate patients on how to manage the disease better

• Improve overall health

Physiotherapists make use of breathing exercises to help achieve the above. These exercises will not cure the obstruction or improve the condition of your lungs, but they can help you breathe more efficiently. This can only work if you do these breathing exercises regularly and, as a result, you will be able to make better use of the lung power that you have.

Also, breathing exercises can help you get your breath back more quickly after you have overexerted yourself or are trying to recover from an asthma attack.

Physiotherapists are able to design an exercise program to suit the needs of each individual patient so they are able to manage the condition better, and teach you ways to live a healthier lifestyle.

— Sohaybah Bux Physiotherapy.

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