What Is COPD?
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is a term for a grouping of chronic lung conditions. These conditions include chronic bronchitis, refractory asthma, and emphysema. People who have COPD have trouble breathing and may experience tightness in the chest, wheezing, and coughing. Although there is no cure for COPD, some dietary changes and supplements may decrease symptoms.
1. Vitamin D
Research has shown that many people with COPD have low levels of vitamin D. Taking a vitamin D-3 supplement has been shown to help protect against moderate to severe flare-ups of respiratory symptoms. The same study found that people with the condition may also benefit from vitamins E and A.
Calcium is a crucial nutrient for lung function. However, many medications for COPD cause people to lose calcium. Consider increasing consumption of calcium-rich foods, such as almonds, kale, yogurt, cheese, sardines, or canned salmon. Patients who struggle to get enough calcium in a daily diet may need to consider a calcium supplement.
As with calcium, some medications for COPD can cause difficulty with magnesium absorption. Magnesium is another vital mineral for lung function. However, patients should always check with a doctor before taking a magnesium supplement, as the nutrient can interfere with some medications.
4. Herbal teas
Some research has found that drinking green tea twice daily is linked to a reduced risk of chronic bronchitis and COPD. Other popular herbal tea remedies include chamomile, lemon balm, mint, thyme, sage, and rosehip.
What else can I do?
Additional lifestyle changes can manage the lung condition. For example, quitting smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke is one of the most critical steps to take in managing the disease. People may also benefit from breathing exercises and other pulmonary rehabilitation exercises. Because getting the flu or pneumonia worsens the symptoms of these conditions, patients with COPD should always get the yearly flu vaccine as well as the pneumococcal vaccine.
When to see a doctor
While supplements can be beneficial for reducing COPD symptoms, patients should always consult with a doctor about an overall treatment plan for the condition. Specific medications can help to manage symptoms and improve the quality of life. People living with COPD may experience shortness of breath, wheezing, or coughing regularly. However, if a person experiences ankle or leg swelling, unexplained weight loss or gain, fever, frequent headaches, confusion, or changes in mucus, speak with a healthcare provider right away. To learn more about managing COPD and chronic bronchitis, speak with a healthcare provider.