Chronic obstructive lung disease
Chronic obstructive lung disease is one of the leading cause of death . Although many people think first of emphysema when they hear chronic obstructive lung disease, chronic bronchitis is actually more common and equally serious because it can lead to emphysema and eventually cause death if it is not controlled.
Cigarette smoking is the number one cause of chronic obstructive lung disease, accounting for 82 percent of cases. Other causes include repeated exposure to lots of dust (such as in coal mines, granaries, or metal molding shops), chemical vapors, and possibly air pollution. A small percentage of emphysema cases are inherited.
Like acute bronchitis, chronic bronchitis is an inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes, which lead to the lungs. This causes the bronchial tubes to produce excess amounts of mucus. As chronic bronchitis progresses, the cilia or tiny hairs that sweep away irritants from the air passages may stop working or die off. Unlike the occasional 1- to 2-week bout with acute bronchitis after a cold or flu in otherwise healthy people, those with chronic bronchitis have inflammation and subsequent coughing, with mucus, for at least 3 months each year.
Emphysema occurs when the tiny air sacks (alveoli) in the lungs become larger and lose their elasticity. When this happens, the lungs become less able to get oxygen into the blood. This leads to shortness of breath, eventually making even the most basic tasks, such as eating or getting dressed, difficult and tiring.
Although neither chronic bronchitis nor emphysema can be cured, with medical treatment the damage they cause to the lungs and heart can be slowed and their symptoms can be eased. Neither disease appears overnight. Chronic bronchitis often begins as repeated cases of acute bronchitis following colds. With chronic bronchitis, however, coughing and mucus production occur more frequently and last longer after each cold, until the bronchitis is finally there whether you’ve had a cold or not. Likewise, emphysema comes on gradually, often beginning as shortness of breath with exercise or activity.
Decreasing symptoms of chronic obstructive lung disease
. Talk to your medical provider about the different methods available for quitting smoking. Continuing to smoke will only hasten the progression of emphysema.
Drink plenty of fluids
. Six to eight glasses of clear fluids a day, such as juice or water, will help keep air passages clear of mucus, making it easier to breathe.
Eat a well-balanced diet
. If you have emphysema, spread your meals out. By eating five or six small meals a day, you avoid having a full stomach, which will interfere with your breathing.
Strengthen your heart with aerobic exercise and build your upper-body
.strength Strengthening the muscles in your upper body will make breathing easier. Moderate aerobic exercise such as 15 minutes of daily walking, will make your heart less susceptible to complications of chronic obstructive lung disease. Exercise and healthy diet will also build your resistance to illness and infection.
Do breathing exercises
. If you have emphysema, ask your medical provider about exercises to help you breathe better.
Get a flu shot each fall and a pneumococcal pneumonia vaccination at least once.