COPD is a respiratory disease in which the wind pipes (bronchi) are narrowed resulting in limitation of the airflow. Thus, breathing is met with resistance. This is commonly known as 'Chronic Bronchitis', and is a progressive disease.

The most important causes of this disease are cigarette smoking, smoking of other forms of tobacco, exposures to noxious gases, occupational exposures, and air pollution. In our country, especially in rural regions, women are exposed to smoke due to fumes from bio mass fuel used for cooking and other domestic purposes.

Developments in the medical field have contributed better medicines to treat this condition, but they do not completely reverse the procedure of the disease. Hence, the role of non pharmacological methods to treat the affected population is a very important part of the management of this disease.

"Lifestyle modifications are very important for a holistic approach towards the management of COPD," says Dr Vishwanath Bellad, Consultant Pulmonologist, BGS Gleneagles Global Hospitals

-Quit smoking: This is a very important step as it arrests the progression of the disease. Quitting smoking as early as possible has great benefits on the overall function of the lungs. This also reduces the risk of second hand smoke damage to other


-Occupational Safety: In the industries and factories, to avoid exposure to the noxious gases, adopting appropriate engineering and protective gear reduces this risk factor. Periodic medical checkup, including assessment of lung function, helps detect this disease in the early stages.

-Avoiding infections by vaccines: Preventing pneumonia by Pneumococcal vaccine and influenza vaccine helps reduce deterioration associated with these common infections.

-Diet: COPD causes retention of carbon dioxide in the blood. It also causes decrease in muscle mass, leading to weakness. Obesity further increases these risk factors, as well as the frequencies of heart attacks and strokes. Hence, a diet that is rich in proteins and low carbohydrates is advised.

-Exercise: Breathing exercises like Pranayama and pursed lip breathing help to cope with breathlessness associated with this disease. The simple exercises of upper and lower limbs help these patients cope up with the disease and restore the functional ability of their respiratory system.

All the above lifestyle modifications are advised in program called pulmonary rehabilitation. Hence enrolling in such programs and incorporating these habits in your day to day life are steps towards taking a holistic approach towards the management of COPD.

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