Developing work activity or spending a lot of time in environments contaminated by chemical vapours or non-toxic dust can cause the disease. Gas emissions in industries can also play a role.
For this reason, there is a group of professionals among whom there is a greater tendency to develop COPD, especially bronchitis. Among them are miners and those who work with cereal grains.
Irritating substances cause inflammation of the alveoli and Persistent coughing. If this inflammation is suffered for a long time, it can evolve into permanent damage. White blood cells accumulate in the inflamed alveoli and release enzymes that damage the connective tissue in the alveoli walls. However, the incidence of this factor is much lower than that of tobacco.
When a physical examination is done, the doctor may not find anything abnormal other than wheezing heard through the stethoscope.
Chest x-rays can also give normal results. Also, as the disease progresses, chest movements decrease during breathing, making it more difficult to hear breath sounds through the stethoscope.
For this reason, a spirometer is required to make a correct diagnosis, which measures the maximum expiratory volume per second and other respiratory flows and volumes. Only with this test can the obstruction or reduction of airflow in a person with the disease be demonstrated.
This test is immediate and painless.
According to specialists, spirometry should be performed on all smokers over 35 years of age and with disease symptoms.
The only way to prevent the disease is not to expose yourself to the risk factors that cause it. As has been said, these factors are tobacco and polluted environments. For this reason, to prevent chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, it is essential not to smoke in any of its varieties (new consumption trends such as rolling tobacco, electronic cigarettes, and vaping devices must also be monitored).
It is also very important to maintain good general health, exercise and eat a healthy diet to increase the body’s resistance to infection. The importance of the exercises, whether in the hospital or at home, lies in the fact that they contribute to increasing the independence and quality of life of the affected person. In addition, the frequency and length of hospitalisation of the patient decrease.
The philosophy behind the practice of exercise is as follows: patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease need extra energy to breathe. If that energy is used more effectively for breathing, the patient will have more energy to carry out their daily actions and participate in new activities. However, improvements in breathing can be achieved, to a large extent, by doing sports. Still, the exercises must be done under medical supervision and with the advice of specialists.
Exercise, at all levels, improves oxygen utilization, work capacity and mentality in patients suffering from the disease. Low-effort activities are easier to practice for these patients than high-intensity activities. Among others, you can do the following exercises:
- Lower body: stationary bike, stair climbing, walking, etc. These exercises strengthen the legs and increase muscle tone and flexibility. They help to move better.
- Upper Body – Exercises designed to improve the strength of the respiratory muscles, arm muscles, and shoulders. Strengthening them is important because they support the rib cage, improve breathing, and make it easier to carry out daily activities, such as carrying bags, making the bed, or lifting objects. A useful exercise is, for example, lifting weights.
Tips when exercising
Bearing in mind that physical fitness is quickly lost when the person interrupts the exercise program, it is essential that the patient set goals that they can achieve and that they gradually increase them. In addition to the exercises, it is recommended that the person follow some other tips:
- Accompany the exercises of a healthy diet.
- Do a warm-up before the exercises.
- Change exercises and make them varied so that the patient does not get bored and give up: swimming, walking, doing weights, and practising low-intensity aerobics.
- Practice exercise with friends to make the activity more enjoyable.
- Continue with the usual rhythm, and do not exert excessive effort.
- Stop activities in the event of any discomfort and consult a doctor.