Chronic = recurring or long standing condition
Obstructive = narrowed airways leading to disturbed breathing
Pulmonary = related to or affecting the lungs
Disease = a medical condition
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, describes a number of lung conditions that hinder passage of air out of the lungs because of narrowing of the air passages in the lungs.
COPD bronchitis emphysema graphic
This may include a number of conditions such as persistent bronchitis and emphysema, which can also occur together.
- Bronchitis is inflammation or swelling of the bronchial tubes or air passages between the mouth , nose and the lungs. People with bronchitis often produce sputum or phlegm.
- Emphysema is a condition in which the alveoli or air sacs in the lungs are damaged or over-inflated to cause shortness of breath. They break down and the lungs become oversized and perforations which trap air.
Any person living with COPD faces difficulty performing daily activities like walking or climbing. This is when pulmonary rehabilitation is needed. Physical therapy is a program that helps to build fitness and breathe as well as one can.
Pulmonary rehab helps with:
- Breathing techniques
- Strategies for living better with COPD
The key to any pulmonary rehab program for COPD is exercise, which will help your lungs and heart work better.
Here’s some more about these exercises, which may be one-on-one with a trainer or in a group:
Lower body: Most rehab centers offer a set of exercises that center on leg workouts. They vary from simply walking on a treadmill or around a track to more intense stair climbing. Most of the proven benefits of pulmonary rehab are shown in studies of people doing leg exercises.
Upper body: The muscles in the upper body are important for breathing, as well as for daily activities. Arm and chest exercises might include turning a crank against resistance or just lifting your arms against gravity.
Breathing: Blowing through a mouthpiece against resistance may increase the strength of your breathing muscles. These exercises may be helpful for people with very weak breathing muscles.
Strength training: Most pulmonary rehab exercises for COPD treatment focus on building endurance. Adding strength training, such as lifting weights, has been shown to be helpful as well.
Many pulmonary rehab programs offer group or one-on-one education sessions to help you learn to better manage your COPD. Sessions might focus on things such as:
- Understanding your medication treatment plan. This includes using your inhaler the right way and using it regularly.
- How to get the most out of oxygen therapy if you are using this treatment
- If you’re a smoker, help with quitting
- Eating a healthy diet
Studies show that people who learn about their COPD and treatment plan are better able to spot symptoms of a flare-up and take the right action.
What You Get Out Of A Program?
Most people who finish a pulmonary rehab course feel better at the end. You’re usually able to do more things without becoming short of breath.
In a large analysis of some programs, nearly all people in pulmonary rehab had seen their symptoms get better. Almost all of them reported feeling:
- Less short of breath
- More energetic
- More in control of their COPD
Consulting a pulmonary rehabilitation specialist may help prevent you from going to the hospital because of COPD flare-ups. Even people with advanced lung disease can benefit from pulmonary rehabilitation.
For people who keep up their exercise level, the benefits from pulmonary rehab can last for years. Be sure to use a certified program — you can ask your doctor for a referral to find the program that’s right for you. Consult a good pulmonary rehabilitation specialist to help you recover from the condition.
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