Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) refers to a number of lung diseases including conditions such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis. COPD is a health condition where the airways become inflamed and the lung’s air sacs become damaged. This causes the airways to reduce in size, getting narrower. Because of this, sufferers often find it extremely difficult to breathe in and out properly.
COPD is a serious and debilitating problem for a lot of people. In the UK, approximately 1.2 million people have been diagnosed with this condition. It can affect many aspects of daily life, making it difficult to carry out even the most simple of tasks.
What causes it?
One of the main causes of COPD is smoking. In fact, it’s thought that this habit is responsible for approximately 90 per cent of cases. When you smoke, the lining of your airways becomes irritated and inflamed, the walls become thicker and more mucus is produced, leading to permanent scarring and damage of your lungs that cannot be reversed. Even if you don’t smoke, being around someone who does and inhaling secondary smoke can increase your risk of developing this condition.
It’s also thought that exposure to dust and fumes is linked to COPD, and research suggests that air pollution may be an additional risk, although this is not conclusive.
What are the symptoms?
Since the symptoms of COPD develop over a number of years, you may not recognise anything is wrong or that you have the condition. The most common signs of COPD include breathlessness when you’re resting, moving around or exercising, a tight chest, a persistent cough, producing more phlegm than usual, recurring chest infections (especially during the colder months) and wheezing. You may also find it increasingly difficult to breathe out.
COPD is generally worse in winter, and it’s common to experience flare-ups around this time of the year. Also known as an exacerbation, a flare-up is when your symptoms are especially bad, and this is one of the most common reasons people are admitted into hospital.
Other symptoms of COPD can include tiredness, weight loss, swollen ankles and a reduced appetite.
What are the treatments?
While there is no cure for this condition, there are a number of treatments available that can help slow down its progression, significantly reduce your symptoms and minimise the occurrence of flare-ups.
Firstly, you could try out some self-care techniques. If you are a smoker, you should try to quit immediately to prevent further damage to your lungs. Giving up this bad habit will give your airways the chance to work properly, clearing away any mucus, bacteria and poisonous chemicals that have gathered in your lungs. While quitting for good can be tricky, there is help at hand. For information and advice on kicking your smoking habit to the curb, you should speak to your GP.
It’s important that you stick to a balanced, nutritious diet too. Eating healthily will help prevent you from contracting infections, which is vital for keeping your lung health in check. You should also exercise regularly.
In addition, there are a number of effective medicated treatments that can help keep your COPD under control, such as special inhalers and antibiotics. The type of medication you use will depend on the severity of your COPD and your symptoms. To figure out which treatment is best for you, you should speak to a medical professional.
You might also find that an alternative treatment works well for you, such as oxygen therapy or pulmonary rehabilitation.
When should I see a doctor?
You should see your doctor if you experience any of the common symptoms, such as breathlessness or a persistent cough, or if you are concerned about your lung health. They will conduct breathing tests, examine and listen to your chest using a stethoscope and check that your lungs are working as they should. Your doctor will also ask you about your symptoms and whether you currently smoke or if you used to. From this, they will be able to offer their expert advice and recommend the most suitable treatment to help slow down or stop the progression of your condition.
How can our products help?
At Adjustamatic, we stock a wide range of adjustable beds which could help relieve your COPD symptoms. Due to their adjustable design, our beds can be manoeuvred into a position that allows you to lie with your head elevated, making it easier for you to breathe while you sleep. This can help improve airflow and keep your symptoms at bay to enable you to rest peacefully.
For more information about our adjustable beds and the other products we offer, get in touch with us today. You can call us on 0808 301 7056 to speak to a member of our team or you can fill out our online contact form.