It may not just be aging signs with breathlessness

Coughing and experiencing a lack of breath and slow breathing   be just down to age. You may never have smoked but you could still develop or be at risk for COPD and other lung diseases.

“While about 80% of COPD cases are related to having smoked, 20% are not,” says Dr. Bartolome Celli, a pulmonologist with Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

COPD includes emphysema and severe asthma causing inflammation, destruction, or abnormal repair of airways and lung tissue, which reduces airflow and ultimately makes it harder to take in enough oxygen to supply the body.

Symptoms include a chronic cough, shortness of breath, wheezing, frequent respiratory infections, fatigue, excess phlegm, and even a blue tint to the lips or fingernails. But many of these are brushed aside.

“People may feel their symptoms are normal consequences of aging or having smoked. They don’t look for help until later in the course of the disease,” says Dr. Celli.

Early detection and prevention are key by quitting smoking; decreasing your exposure to air pollutants; getting vaccinations for influenza and pneumonia; and getting the medications necessary.

References (www.health.harvard.edu/COPD).

Manage your COPD breathing with Yoga

Will yoga exercises help COPD patients manage breathlessness better?

Many people who suffer from a lung disease find it very hard to exercise. Often even the thought of physical activity makes them feel breathless. But there is a way to overcome these fears that only lead to a downward spiral of both physical and mental decline, practising yoga. This low impact form of exercise will not only help raising your energy levels, it also clears your mind from worry. Being good for everybody, it is also more and more recommended especially for people with lung diseases, like emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and other lung diseases commonly known as COPD.

Why can yoga exercises be especially beneficial for COPD patients?

In yoga practice there are two essential parts that complement each other in a synergistic way. One part is the Asanas, physical posture that improve range of motion, balance, flexibility and strength of the body. The other part is the Pranayamas, breathing techniques that teach you how to control your breathing and keep your lungs more fully. It also strengthens your respiratory muscles. The two combined will help you improve your general fitness and make breathing easier and more efficient. Additional meditation helps relieve stress and anxiety, which allows you to extend the benefits of the pranayamas and asanas.

Pranayamas, breathing techniques, that can be beneficial for COPD patients are:

Pursed-lip Breathing

This is an exercise especially suitable to learn control your breathlessness. While leaning slightly forward you slowly breath out with your lips pursed, imagine you are blowing a kiss or cooling your soup. This slows down the exhalation and stimulates the abdominal muscles to contract and forces the diaphragm upwards, so the lungs will empty themselves better. Instead of long inhalations and short exhalations, which is a common reaction to breathlessness, you learn to do it the other way around, with an ideal rhythm being to make the exhalation twice as long as the inhalation. Not only will this calm you down and relieve the breathlessness, it also help to strengthen the breathing muscles.

Abdominal or Belly Breathing

COPD patient can benefit especially from the abdominal breathing technique, as it stimulates the diaphragm moving upward and downward, so more oxygen can be taken into the lower lobes of the lungs and spread through the body. At the same time the abdominal organs are massaged by the moving diaphragm, thus improving their intake of oxygen and functioning. By doing the belly breath your body relaxes and becomes re-energized at the same time.

Ujjayi Breathing or Ocean Breath

This is a special form of breath, typically used while practicing asanas. It is used to slow down the breath and make an audible sound by creating a constriction in the base of your throat, like you do when blowing out to create a fog on a mirror. It helps you to stay calm during the practice while focusing on the sound and avoiding breathlessness. It also is said to create heat in your body, which helps to keep up your energy levels throughout the practice. The diaphragm controls the length and the speed of your breath and will become stronger in doing so.

Correct breathing is an essential part of yoga; as the blood will be provided with more oxygen, which makes it possible to control energy levels and this will help you relax and calm your mind. Once you have controlled your breath by practicing pranayamas, you will feel more comfortable and confident to start practicing asanas.

Asanas, physical postures, recommended for COPD patients are:

Standing Mountain Pose

This is a straightforward pose, from which all other standing poses are performed. It requires you to stand tall, either with your arms raised or left hanging loosely at your sides. It teaches you to align your spine and balance the weight of your body, while focusing on your inner self. Your chest will open up and breathing will become easier.

Standing Back Bend

This pose is performed from the Standing Mountain Pose by placing your hands on your lower back with the fingers pointing down and arching your spine back. It helps to release tension in your neck and shoulders and opens up the respiratory system.

Standing Side Bends

These bends not only improve your posture by standing taller, it also regulates your breathing. The basic standing side bend is easily performed from the Standing Mountain pose. By exhaling with each bend, you stretch alternately to the left and to the right. This calming pose improves the flexibility of your rib cage and helps to strengthen your diaphragm to make breathing easier.

Seated Forward Bends

There are several seated forward bends, performed from either a chair or the floor. These poses calm the brain, stimulate the organs and stretch the spine and the shoulders to give more room to your lungs and help you to relax.

These are only a few examples of pranayamas and asanas that you can practice to help improve your lung condition. If reading this story triggered your enthusiasm to give it a try, do take some precautions before you begin. Things to consider are for example:

– Consult with your doctor or respiratory therapist about what is possible in your condition

– Always join a recognized yoga school, don´t go practicing by yourself without any coaching

– Be sure the yoga teacher of your choice is qualified, also for training special groups like COPD patients

– During class, always keep your inhaler or oxygen supply at hand

– Don´t overexert yourself, take a rest if you get exhausted or experience shortness of breath

With these precautions in mind and a good yoga teacher, you will surely be able to experience the benefits that can yoga give you, a fitter body and a mind more at ease.

Websites consulted:

http://www.healthline.com/health/copd/yoga#1

http://yogachicago.com/2014/03/yoga-for-chronic-obstructive-pulmonary-disease-copd/

https://www.doyogawithme.com/yoga_breathing

 

Want to imrove your breathing and wellbeing?

Can Yoga Help When You Have COPD?

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Many people who suffer from COPD find it hard to exercise. But not exercising worsens their lung condition rapidly, which makes it even more difficult to perform any kind of activity. This way they find themselves in a vicious circle where they feel there is no escape from. Especially for these people yoga is the best exercise, as it is a low impact activity that improves your physical as well as your emotional health. It reduces stress and anxiety, increases relaxation and self-confidence, and improves fitness in general.

Yoga can help relieve the symptoms of COPD

Yoga has its roots in Eastern philosophy, and many people still think it is mainly a spiritual and religious experience. But most yoga classes for people with health problems do not focus on this at all. It is mainly a “mind-body practice”, as the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine describes it., which is especially beneficial for people with COPD. The American Journal of Therapeutics published a study performed in 2012, that showed these benefits clearly. In this study a group of 33 COPD patients followed a yoga class given by a certified yoga therapist for six weeks in sessions of one hour, three times a week. They were taught yoga postures, breathing exercises and meditation techniques. After the six weeks, the medical tests showed an improvement in lung function and the patients themselves reported that their overall quality of life had improved significantly.

Yoga offers various benefits for people with COPD

First of all, it is an easy way to exercise. Most exercises are stationary and performed sitting or standing. These physical postures, also called asanas, encourage your flexibility and build up your physical strength, thus helping you to increase your exercise tolerance. Yoga classes set up for COPD patients do not contain complicated poses, but just gentle stretching and bending exercises, designed especially with the health needs of people with COPD in mind. Together with the breathing exercises, the so-called pranayamas, which will teach you how to manage attacks of breathlessness, they will give you all the tools you need to effectively manage both your physical and your emotional well-being. All the techniques are normally easy enough to also practice at home.

Second, there is the social interaction you will be able to build up with your fellow students. You can exchange experiences with others in the same or similar condition as you are, so the feeling of isolation, being one of a kind, will reduce. And the mere fact of spending time with other people on a regular basis will undoubtedly help improve your overall mood, as it does to all of us. This makes it a fun sociable activity, which should be easy to keep up!

And last, but may be not least, it can be a big help to those COPD patients that, despite their disease, cannot manage to quit smoking. Trying to stop this habit can lead to stress and anxiety, which does not help the condition of especially COPD patients, and may even have an adverse effect. Practicing yoga can be a big help in relieving these stress symptoms caused by smoking cessation and increase the chance of a successful attempt to quit. This is a suggestion endorsed by the American Lung Association.

Yoga is a safe way of exercise for people with lung diseases

Especially for people suffering from emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and other lung diseases that are generally known as COPD, yoga is one of the best ways to keep a health condition as good as possible through exercise. Of course, before you begin, consult with your doctor and ask his advice. Maybe he or she will also know certified yoga teachers in your neighbourhood with good credentials for training COPD patients. And always remember to keep your inhaler at hand, just in case. With these precautions taken, nothing stands in your way to improve your physical and mental wellbeing with the aid of yoga!

 

 

 

A healthy lifestyle also helps to keep your lungs healthy!

We all know that a healthy lifestyle can help us lose weight, get more energy and give us a better quality of life in general. But it is little known that good exercise and healthy food is especially beneficial for the well-being of your lungs also, both for people who still have healthy lungs as for people who suffer from any lung disease already.

trainers

Exercising doesn’t necessarily mean exhausting yourself

For people who have a lung disease, like asthma or COPD, exercising often seems just bridge too far. But exercising does not have to be strenuous. A small research with COPD patients doing mild exercises in a bath filled with warm spring water showed a remarkable reduction of their symptoms and improvement of the condition of their lungs as well as their oxygen saturation. Also special training like yoga or tai chi have seen to be very wholesome for COPD patients, and can even slow down the progression of diseases like emphysema.

For asthma patients, especially those suffering from exercise-induced asthma, a simple exercise as blowing in a bottle regularly, can improve their lung function significantly. This was demonstrated by a research where 212 patients were asked to blow into a bottle every 4 hours, during 4 months. After this period their FEV (Forced Expiratory Volume, which is the amount of air that can be blown out in a one second forced exhalation) showed a stable improvement of their lung function. Apart from that they needed to use their inhalers a lot less during this period. 65-75% of the improvement remained for over half a year, even without blowing in the bottle.

It seems only logical that, if these simple exercises are so beneficial to already damaged lungs, they would be just perfect to keep your still healthy lungs in tip top shape. So don’t wait until it is too late, start exercising and let your lungs absorb the oxygen to energise your body. No need for exhausting exercises, a nice walk in the fresh air, that you can breathe in deeply, is sufficient and may be even the best!

Eat vegetables and fruits to keep your lungs in the best possible condition

More and more scientists and researchers emphasise the importance of eating ample fruit and veggies, around 400 grams daily, to keep our bodies healthy. Specific research has recently shown that especially our lungs also benefit from this kind of diet. A researcher from the section Health & Environment from the University of Washington in Seattle found that frequent consumption of vegetables and fruits reduces the chance to develop COPD or other lung diseases, while for people already suffering from COPD, it improved their lung function significantly. Other research found that eating fruits and vegetables offers protection against lung cancer.

If possible, try to get biological products, as these contain more anti oxidants than the regularly grown vegetables and fruits. Furthermore, the biological varieties contain more polyphenols. Both anti oxidants and polyphenols are known to have anti inflammatory and anti carcinogenic properties.

Ref: Medisch dossier, Sept. 2016; Wikipedia

Exercise table could help alleviate COPD symptoms

A team of researchers in America have developed and are currently testing out a table that may be able to help patients that suffer from the effects of COPD.

COPD Research helped in the creation of the Exhale Fully Table as demonstrated by Jared Kerr & David Giordano PHOTO BY: BRADLEY PEARCE/UNCW
COPD Research helped in the creation of the Exhale Fully Table as demonstrated by Jared Kerr & David Giordano PHOTO BY: BRADLEY PEARCE/UNCW

The team consists of people from all disciplines that have come together to pool their knowledge of COPD and patient’s pulmonary care and treatment to help these patients to improve their breathing.

The table is based on a gravity-powered approach to improve ventilation as well as helping to clear mucus. The table appears stable but in fact rocks forward and backwards with weight. The person on the exercise table lifts and pulls a bar while rocking the table forward

As the person pushes away the table then rocks backward resulting in the person’s feet being higher than their head. This movement forces air out of the lungs, which is normally difficult for a COPD patient to do and therefore reduces the difficulty of breathing for the patient. This approach also uses gravity to help the tiny hairs in the lungs to move the mucus along the trachea as well as the gravity also helping to move the lymphatic fluid out of the lungs. The movement of the abdominal viscera also moves the diaphragm which also reduces the effort of breathing.

The table not only aids the lungs and breathing but also benefits the rest of the body. The gravity effect on the body results in the drainage of lymphatic fluid from the arms and legs, improving circulation and reducing swelling.

One of the founders of the company is himself a COPD sufferer and says that the table has alleviated his symptoms greatly but the table is currently being vigorously tested in trials.

References: http://copdnewstoday.com

Using opioids worsens your COPD

COPD patients are often prescribed opioids such as codeine, oxycodone and morphine to provide relief from common symptoms such as muscoskeletal pain, insomnia and respiratory issues. However it has been shown by researchers in Toronto, Canada that opioids can induce additional respiratory side effects and that new opioid users have 5 times a greater risk of death compared to non-opioid users. These results raise serious safety concerns about the use of opioids for older adults with COPD.

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“This is a population that has a chronic lung disease, with symptoms that can sometimes be challenging to manage,” said Dr. Nicholas Vozoris, lead author of the study. “This class of drugs may offer some relief; however, there is also evidence suggesting that opioids can adversely affect breathing and lung health in people who already have chronically compromised lungs.”

Previous studies reported that opioids were safe for patients with advanced COPD but the results were not reliable due to study limitations.

In this new study over 130,000 patient records were examined from multiple healthcare databases to try to ensure the results were more generally applicable and reliable.

“Previous research has shown about three-quarters of older adults with COPD have been prescribed opioids, which is an incredibly high rate of new use in a population that is potentially more sensitive to narcotics,” Vozoris said. “Our new findings show there are not only increased risks for respiratory-related death associated with new opioid use, but also increased risk of visits to emergency rooms, hospitalizations and needing antibiotics or steroid pills.”

The team found that those who used opioids had an increased risk of 14% or ending up in the emergency department and nearly 3 times the risk of COPD or pneumonia-related mortality. They even have an overall mortality risk of 76% compared to non-opioid users. Opioids were however found to decrease the risk of respiratory exacerbations by 12%.

The higher risks were found in patients using stronger or higher dosage opioids however many risks were unaffected by dosage if you were a new user.

Opioids can impact COPD patients in several ways such as respiratory depression, reduced mucous clearance from cough suppression, and immunosuppressive effect.

To lower the risks of adverse events doctors may prescribe less potent or lower dosage opioids but the results of the current study showed increased risk of complications and even death regardless of dose amount among new opioid users. Vosoriz said the finding is important because lower doses were long considered safe.

“Sometimes patients are looking for a quick fix for chronic pain or breathing issues and physicians may believe opioids can offer them some relief,” he added. “The trade-off becomes explaining that there are risks to patients and making sure they understand that potentially alleviating their symptoms could come at a higher cost to their health.”

An individual multi-disciplinary approach is better as a treatment plan rather than just prescribing opioids. Making use of pulmonary rehabilitation, supplemental oxygen therapy, exercise and lifestyle changes in conjunction with medication is best way forward for COPD patients.

References: http://copdnewstoday.com and http://lungdiseasenews.com