COPD, otherwise known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, can have many signs and symptoms. The problem is recognizing these symptoms to be COPD and not just a bout with a bad cold, pneumonia, bronchitis, or asthma. Therefore, regardless of what you think you may be sick with, the sooner you see a doctor the better.
COPD signs and symptoms include the following: chronic coughs, mucus production, shortness of breathe especially when exercising, wheezing and chest tightness. If you have a cough that is persistent especially when accompanied by the coughing up of lots of mucus, you need to see a doctor to either rule or diagnose you with COPD. Someone can actually have these symptoms for years without fully realizing all of the symptoms of COPD because it can take that long for the air flow in and out of the lungs to be reduced. If you are a smoker, however, you greatly increase the rapidity of the disease. Other symptoms can include colds that last for weeks instead of days, one episode of bronchitis every winter, morning “smoker’s cough”, or a shallow cough with a feeling that something is stuck.
If you have been diagnosed with COPD, you may be experiencing more challenging diet demands. You may either have such limited energy that even preparing a simple meal is an effort, or the medications you are taking are reducing your appetite. It is especially important, though, at this time that you maintain a healthy weight and a healthy diet. Most people with COPD burn ten times the amount of calories as a healthy person. So, if you aren’t eating enough calories and are underweight, you are going to be more prone to infections, you may become tired and weaker faster and more often, and your muscles may begin to weaken. On the other hand, if you are still overweight, you need to limit your caloric intake because you are currently forcing your heart and lungs to work harder causing your breathing to become more difficult. By maintaining a healthy diet you can maintain a healthy weight, provide your body with the energy it needs, help keep your muscles strong and help you fight infection.
There are certain guidelines that have been put together that should help you obtain your COPD eating goals.
1. Eat a variety of healthy foods especially fruits and vegetables. Also choose whole
grains, dairy products and proteins. High fiber foods will help aid with your digestion
thus controlling blood glucose levels.
2. Drink plenty of water. Water helps thin mucus so you can cough it up easier.
3. Avoid salt. Salt makes your body retain water which increases swelling. This will make
it more difficult to breathe. Be especially careful of “hidden” salts that are in many
canned soups and frozen dinners.
4. Avoid foods that cause gas and bloating. This will make it more difficult to breath. Try
to stay away from beans, broccoli, carbonated beverages, and fried or greasy foods.
5. Avoid junk foods that have no nutritional value.
6. If weight gain is a priority, choose foods high in protein and calories, like cheese,
peanut butter, eggs, milk and yogurt.
By following dietary guidelines that your physician can outline for you, you will be more successful in maintaining a healthy body weight while coping with COPD. This will not only help your breathing, but help to fight off infection and keep your body strong.