Feeling short of breath from time to time is healthy and normal; it’s a natural response when your body needs more oxygen and energy when you do something that requires physical effort. Sometimes it could be something more serious. Learn more about Breathlessness and COPD below.
Do you suffer from Breathlessness or COPD?
Breathlessness can be caused by lots of different things including low blood oxygen levels, narrowing of our airways, being overweight, anxiety, smoking or heart conditions.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is where air cannot get out of the lungs easily (the airflow is obstructed). COPD is a common condition that mainly affects middle-aged or older adults who smoke or have smoked. Jobs where people are exposed to dust fumes and chemicals also increase the risk of COPD, as well as having chest trouble or asthma in childhood. *
How Physiotherapy can help
- Breathlessness management techniques
- Breathing exercises and positions of ease
- Helping you to improve your fitness through pulmonary rehabilitation/exercise
- Ensuring you are taking your inhalers correctly
- Chest clearance techniques
- After these have been explored, assessing your need for oxygen
If you suffer with sputum it is important to clear it from your chest regularly as it can be a breeding ground for bacteria.
Sputum build up that begins to obstruct the airways can make you breathless as it decreases the surface area available for gas exchange. In some conditions, repetitive bouts of infection can lead to worsening lung scarring and deterioration.
There are many different ways to help to remove phlegm from your chest. This video from Physiotherapists in the NHS shows the most common exercise used to help with chest clearance.
Whether you have been diagnosed with COPD, or you’re trying to prevent it, it’s never too late to stop smoking. Tobacco smoking is the main cause of COPD. Breathing in tobacco smoke irritates the lungs. The lungs become inflamed and you may develop a cough. Ceasing to smoke is the most important thing you can do to help your lungs and improve your cough and phlegm production, and overall health.
Chartered Physiotherapist Angela Radley O’Donovan is a Smoking Cessation Advisor at Tipperary University Hospital. In episode 2, Angela meets with Operation Transformation Leader Stefano Sweetman to help him quit smoking.
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