Top Treatments and Natural Remedies for COPD
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a major health concern in the U.S. This disease of the respiratory system causes restricted airflow and an abnormal inflammatory response, which can make something as simple as breathing extremely difficult. With over 11 million people in the U.S. diagnosed with COPD, it is important to know the most effective treatments and natural remedies for this disease.
COPD is a term that is inclusive of several diseases, such as emphysema, asthma, and chronic bronchitis. The leading cause of developing COPD is smoking tobacco, so the best prevention of COPD is to avoid smoking. However, many who have been diagnosed with COPD or have other breathing difficulties continue to smoke, despite their health condition.
COPD is characterized by illnesses that cause irreversible airflow limitation. Symptoms do not often show up until there has been a significant amount of damage done to the lungs, and symptoms typically worsen with time.
Some signs and symptoms include frequent shortness of breath, wheezing, chronic cough, frequent respiratory infections, tightness in the chest, general fatigue, over-production of mucus, and unexplained weight loss.
If you experience these symptoms, it’s important to seek medical advice. COPD only worsens with time, so early detection is a very important part of successful treatment.
Four Stages of COPD
There are four progressive stages of COPD. These include:
- Stage One (mild)
- Stage Two (moderate)
- Stage Three (severe)
- Stage Four (very severe)
Each stage impacts the patient differently, but in general, as the stages increase, so does the risk of death. There is no cure for COPD, however, there are various ways to manage the symptoms.
There are several natural treatments and remedies for COPD that can relieve the symptoms. Using your own efforts, in addition to any prescribed medication, can further aid in the treatment of COPD symptoms.
Follow a Healthy Diet
Eating foods that are beneficial to your health can improve the symptoms of COPD. While some foods are very important to eat on a regular basis, others should be avoided at all costs. Your diet should include anti-inflammatory foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals to help your body heal.
Healthy grains, nuts, fruits such as raspberries, blueberries, and cantaloupe, and healthy oils such as coconut oil are all important parts of a healthy diet. Some other great anti-inflammatory foods are chia seeds, wild-caught salmon, and flax seeds. These also provide essential omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for healing the body.
If you have symptoms of COPD, you want to avoid consuming conventional dairy, as pasteurized dairy encourages the production of mucus, which can block the airways. Also, avoid foods that have been processed, canned, or contain excess sugar. Foods containing additives, dyes, and preservatives can also contribute to breathing problems and even severe asthma attacks.
Using essential oils can help to clear up the respiratory tract. There are several essential oils that have beneficial properties for those who suffer from breathing problems. These include:
Eucalyptus oil is a very healing oil, as it has antibacterial properties, along with antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antimicrobial. It also works as a decongestant. Eucalyptus contains cineole, which is a compound that makes it very powerful in battling harmful particles that may be in the airways. Cineole also contains antioxidants, so it helps the immune system.
To get the most effective benefits from cineole, use eucalyptus oil in an oil diffuser or a humidifier so you can breathe in the air that contains the anti-inflammatory properties.
This oil has clarifying properties that open the passageways in the lungs, making breathing easier. Lemon is a great immune system booster, which can help prevent bacteria from worsening the lungs. Lemon oil is also an anti-inflammatory and an antimicrobial.
Mint essential oil, especially peppermint, contains vitamins A and C, minerals, and fatty acids. However, the helpful component in mint essential oil is menthol, which gives the minty scent and the cooling sensation of peppermint. Organic mint oil can especially benefit the cleansing of the lungs and upper respiratory system, thus helping those who are suffering from COPD.
A sedentary lifestyle will hurt those with COPD because mucus can build up in the lungs if they are not used to their capacity. By getting regular exercise, especially workouts that involve your cardiovascular system, such as walking, running, or riding a bike, you can strengthen your lungs and improve your respiratory endurance.
Also, an estimated 40% of people who have COPD also have high levels of anxiety and depression, making it more difficult to stop smoking and causing a lack of motivation to move forward with other at-home treatments. Exercise helps to increase the levels of endorphins in the brain, which helps to improves mood, reduces anxiety and depression, and may make it easier to stop smoking.
One of the most frustrating, and also most common, symptoms of COPD is having to clear mucus out of your airways. The mucus is hard to get rid of at times and may result in uncontrollable coughing that you are unable to stop. One easy way you can help improve this issue is by staying hydrated. Drink at least eight glasses of water every day to help thin mucus and keep your body hydrated. If you are exercising, increase your water intake accordingly.
Aside from drinking water, you can increase the moisture in the air of your house by using a humidifier. Dry air can irritate the lungs, leading to further coughing fits and chest pain. Humidifiers can help make breathing easy, especially while you sleep.
Avoid Cold Air and Crowds
When you have symptoms of COPD, it is important to avoid irritants such as smoke and pollution. Cold air can also trigger a bronchospasm, causing a sudden constriction in the muscles in the lungs. If it is cold outside, it is best to avoid going outside or at least reduce the time you spend outdoors. If you must go outdoors in the cold, it is best to wear a facemask so you are not breathing in the cold air directly.
It is also important to avoid large crowds if you are prone to respiratory infections. Because respiratory infections increase the severity of COPD symptoms, keeping your chances of contracting a respiratory infection low is important when it comes to maintaining your lung health. While it may not be necessary to stay inside your house all the time to avoid people, be cautious when you are around large groups of people and certainly avoid being around anyone who is sick.
While there are prescriptions that can help treat the symptoms of COPD, it is also important to do what you can on your own to naturally keep your body healthy. These tips are not only helpful for reducing the severity of COPD, but they are also beneficial to your overall health.