5 Ways to Lower Your Risk of COPD

5 Ways to Lower Your Risk of COPD

Nearly 16 million people in the United States have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), with many more not realizing they even have it.

COPD is a chronic, progressive, inflammatory disorder that causes airflow in your lungs to be disrupted. Symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, tightness in your chest, lack of energy, and losing weight when you’re not trying.

There’s no cure for COPD, but it can be treated with medications, oxygen therapy, and pulmonary rehabilitation. Treatment is important because, left unchecked, COPD can lead to more serious conditions such as heart disease and lung cancer.

The best treatment, though, is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. Here are five ways to lower your risk of COPD, courtesy of our experts at Physicians Medical Primary Care.

1. Stop smoking

Smoking is by far the biggest risk factor for COPD, contributing to 85%-90% of all cases. Smoking inflames the linings of your airways and causes irreparable damage. If you’ve never smoked, don’t start, and if you’re a current smoker, you should quit as soon as possible. 

Quitting isn’t easy, but you can talk to your doctor about nicotine replacement therapies (such as patches), and there are many resources and classes available to help you work through the process of quitting.

You should also stay away from secondhand smoke as much as possible — this smoke can damage your airways and increase your risk of COPD as well. Don’t allow smoking in your home or car, and stay as far away as you can from people who do smoke.

2. Avoid pollutants

In addition to cigarette smoke, you should also avoid other pollutants and irritants in the air, such as dust, chemicals, air pollution, and cooking in unventilated spaces. 

If you work in an atmosphere with fumes, chemicals, or dust, you should wear a face mask and make sure your work area is well-ventilated.

3. Stay physically active

Exercise alone won’t prevent you from getting COPD; however, if you follow a regular exercise routine, your lung muscles will work more efficiently and have better endurance, which will help lower your risk of COPD.

4. Eat healthy

A recent study shows that a healthy, well-balanced diet rich in antioxidants from plant-based foods may also protect against the development of COPD. This type of diet can also improve your lung function, and it’s good for your overall health, too.

5. Get tested for alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency

Some cases of COPD are caused by a rare genetic disorder called alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency. If you know this runs in your family, you can be tested to determine if you have the disorder, which causes low levels of alpha-1-antitrypsin, a protein that protects your lungs. If you do have the deficiency, you may be able to take medication to help control it and limit your lung damage.

If you’ve been diagnosed with COPD or think you may have it, our team at Physicians Medical Primary Care specializes in COPD treatment. To get started, just call our closest location in San Jose, CA, or book an appointment with our online scheduler anytime!

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