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Asthma vs C.O.P.D

Most of us know what asthma is but less of us know what Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (C.O.P.D) is, I know I didn't when I first came across it.

Let’s start by familiarising ourselves with asthma. Asthma is a respiratory illness and symptoms include chronic coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. Annoyingly, experts are unsure as to why people suffer with asthma, but the general idea is that it is a combination of environmental and inherited genetic factors. Triggers include pollen, dust mites and pet hair which are very well known forms of triggers. However people seem to forget that respiratory infections and medications may also trigger symptoms (not good).

No onto C.O.P.D, it is often mistaken for asthma due to the similar symptoms (chronic coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath). It is also very common for people with C.O.P.D to also have asthma. The known cause of C.O.P.D is smoking. Smoking (Nasty) and smoke irritate the lungs causing the tubes inside and air sacs to lose their elasticity and over expand. This leaves air trapped n the lungs when you exhale. Its also important to know that about 1% of people with COPD develop the disease as a result of a genetic disorder that causes low levels of a protein called alpha-1-antitrypsin (AAt). This protein helps protect the lungs. Without enough of it, lung damage occurs easily, not just in long-term smokers but also in infants and children who have never smoked but are around smokey areas.

Not only is it difficult to breath but it’s a very uncomfortable experience. So how can exercise help if it is also a trigger?

Well, firstly, without being taught how to breathe properly (sounds silly, but breathing training is required when you suffer from respiratory illnesses). Individuals will struggle a lot to perform physical activity for long periods of time, and by that I mean 10-15 minutes (MAX).

Although exercise can set off asthma it is greatly needed to live a long life. So how can asthma sufferers get around this hurdle?

Well, let me tell you, NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE. There are various ways to manage your symptoms whilst exercising:

Brisk walking is a great from of exercise and is a way of training regular breathing and managing your technique whilst moving.

Yoga, due to the constant reminder of ‘Breath in your nose and out through mouth’ in that tranquil calm voice you are able to thoroughly practice your breathing technique during exercise.

Swimming is super duper way to reduce your symptoms and keep fit. You have no choice but to keep a breathing rhythm whilst swimming. However its important to note that chlorine is also known as a trigger, so be cautious.

Whats more is that regular exercise can help REDUCE SYMPTOMS. But how? Exercise can:

  • Improve the functioning of the lungs providing a higher level of stamina

  • Boosting your immune system (less likely to cough and develop colds)

  • Weight loss which reduced symptoms

  • Improved mood which studies have shown to also reduce symptoms

Stay Safe Kids

Exercise can be dangerous, but not very often. Its important to take safety precautions if necessary. So make sure you are prepared whilst doing exercise, and stop and take your inhaler/medication if you:

  • Start coughing/wheezing

  • Are gasping for air/very short of breath/can't get enough air

  • Feel tightness in the chest

  • Have trouble speaking in short sentences

  • Younger children may complain that their chest or tummy hurts.

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