Slowing Down the Progression of COPD

Slowing Down the Progression of COPD

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the term that describes a group of serious lung diseases. When you have COPD, you experience inflammation in your lungs and airways. This inflammation obstructs airflow and makes it difficult to breathe. 

Without treatment, the condition can be fatal, making it the third leading cause of death by disease in the United States. Early symptoms include persistent productive coughing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, fatigue or lack of energy, and wheezing.

At Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine in Algonquin, Illinois, lung specialists, Dennis Kellar, MD, and Madhu Gundavaram, MD, offer expert diagnosis and treatment for many lung diseases, including COPD.

Currently, there’s no known cure for COPD, and it generally worsens over time. But with the right care team and proper management, people with COPD can control their symptoms and slow the disease’s progression.   

In this blog, we explain how you can help slow the progression of COPD, and we also explain how we can help.

1. Stop smoking 

The single most important step you can take to slow the progression of COPD is to stop smoking. About 80% of COPD-related deaths result from smoking. Smoking makes symptoms worse and damages the lungs and airways, speeding progression of the disease.

Talk to your family and friends about quitting to help you stay motivated, and be sure to ask your provider about additional help.     

2. Improve your diet 

Your body needs fuel to function, and it gets that fuel from food. Your body changes the foods you eat into energy during a process called metabolism. The better the quality of food you put into your body, the better your body can function — including your lungs.

Research shows that eating a diet centered on whole, unprocessed, plant-based foods, while minimizing consumption of processed foods, meats, dairy products, and refined grains, sugars, and oils, can help slow the disease and improve overall health.

In fact, consuming the essential vitamins and minerals your body needs can:

Recent studies have also shown that this type of diet, which is high in fiber, may also improve your lung function. In fact, more and more scientific evidence points to the connection between the foods you eat, your gut health, and the function of your lungs. 

3. Get moving

It may seem strange to move more when you have COPD, since it makes breathing more difficult. But physical exercise can help strengthen your lung health and overall health and also slow the progression of COPD.   

Some of the benefits people with COPD experience by increasing or adding exercise to their daily routine include: 

Before beginning any exercise program or routine, be sure to review your plans with your Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine provider.

4. Do what you can to prevent viral infections

People with COPD have an increased risk of getting lung infections from viruses that cause the flu, the common cold, and other respiratory infections, such as COVID-19. Unfortunately, these infections can speed the progression of COPD. 

To stop your COPD from getting worse, it’s important to take steps to keep from getting viral infections. Use good hygiene, wash your hands frequently, avoid crowds and people who are sick, and get an annual flu shot and other needed vaccines.

5. Get expert help

COPD is a serious condition that requires a medical diagnosis and treatment. At Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine, your provider creates a customized treatment plan that meets your specific needs. 

In addition to the steps listed above, your lung expert may prescribe specific treatments to help you breathe. This may include a bronchodilator — which can help relax the muscles around your airways to make breathing easier — steroids to reduce inflammation, and oxygen therapy to help reduce symptoms.

To see a lung specialist about your COPD, call 815-770-5980 or book an appointment online with Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine today.

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