COPD stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. It is the common name for not one, but several pulmonary diseases such chronic bronchitis and emphysema. It is most normally caused by smoking and affects smokers or previous smokers. Normally diagnosis happens after 45 years of age. It is a chronic disease that requires life-long management. The main symptoms are shortness of breath during activities or conversation, consistent cough, anxiety, persistent and excess phlegm.
If you know someone or are having issues yourself with these symptoms you should contact your GP for further help.You can find lots of information about what causes COPD on the internet. In this post, I’m going to focus on what we as physiotherapists can do for you who have been diagnosed with COPD.
When most people I talk to think about what physiotherapist do they usually don’t think about respiratory care. However, in many fields respiration is the main focus for physios. I have myself worked with many COPD patients before and after surgery in the past and have some experience of what it means to “just” breathe and what that can do for you.
What happens when breathing is hard
Simply put, oxygen is the petrol the body runs on. Without it muscles can contract or relax as normal, we become drowsy and lethargic. Breathing and different types of breathing, therefore, affects not just our bodies but our minds too. This becomes very obvious when breathing is a problem.
As I mentioned above anxiety is a common symptom for COPD. Not being able to get enough oxygen triggers a major stress reaction and anxiety is the body’s way of letting us know that something is not right. You can read more about how prolonged stress affects the body in our previous post on stress (link?).
COPD, physio management
So, when you come and see one of us there are several things we will recommend and help you with. The exact therapy plan naturally varies and is developed around each individual, but in general terms, there are many things we can help you with. In broad terms there are four areas that will affect your COPD:
Finding a good level for you to help you stay active is important for many reasons. To name a few: promoting best possible lung function, blood circulation, over-all energy level and avoiding secondary complications to COPD.
As with all chronic diseases, COPD might require life to adapt around it. How you can plan and prioritize daily activities to maintain a good quality of life. Taking small breaks to catch your breath during activities etc.
Breathing, stress and anxiety management
To name a few novel ways of doing this breathing exercises and mindfulness have been proven to have the good effect. In Denmark, there are even COPD choirs.
Continued smoking allows for continued deterioration of the lungs, and thus make the COPD worse.
There is a lot to be said about COPD. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have questions or need help managing your COPD.
For more information visit www.physioandmore.co.uk