Asthma can’t be cured, but its symptoms can definitely be controlled.
Here are some Tips to manage your Asthma better. These Dos and Don’ts will help you prevent Asthma attacks and manage them better if they do happen. Work with your Physiotherapist to learn techniques to breathe better using Pulmonary Physiotherapy.
Because asthma often changes over time, it’s important that you work with your doctor to track your signs and symptoms and adjust the treatment as required.
Tips for Managing Asthma Better
Stick to Your Medicine. Taking your asthma medicine the way your doctor tells you to allows you to feel in control of your health.
Be Aware of Your Symptoms. Paying attention to your early warning signs like shortness of breath or tightness in your chest, will help you take quick action helping you to stay on top of your asthma.
Follow Your Asthma Action Plan. Be sure to discuss your action plan with your doctor. Your action plan will guide you to good asthma control. Know your zones and follow your plan.
Stay Calm. Keep calm if you have an asthma attack.
Follow your action plan. Know Your Peak Flow Zones. Peak flow meters are used to check your breathing and these readings allow you to know how you are breathing. It can signal problems early and help to avoid breathing trouble.
Avoid Your Asthma Triggers. Know and stay away from the asthma triggers that make your asthma flare-up or worsen.
Talk to The Right People. Talk with your doctor. Talk to your family, school, or friends about asthma and control. Let them help.
Don’t Delay. Know the signs when your asthma is getting worse. Act fast. The faster you act, the faster you will be in control.
Don’t Be Around Smoke. Smoking increases and worsens asthma attacks.
Don’t Stop Exercising. Be sure to check with your doctor about exercising, sports, and other activities. Staying fit will help to keep you healthy.
Don’t Open Windows during Summer and Autumn. During allergy seasons, prevent pollen from entering your home or car. Try to stay indoors when the pollen count is high (from about 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM). Avoid freshly cut grass.
Don’t Have Pets in your Bedroom. Be pet smart. Carpets and cloth-covered furniture trap dander (animal fur).
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the name for a collection of lung diseases including chronic bronchitis, emphysema and chronic obstructive airways disease.
People with COPD have difficulties breathing, primarily due to the narrowing of their airways, this is called airflow obstruction.
CHRONIC –This means that the disease lasts a long time and is always present. While the symptoms may take years to develop and the severity may differ at times, there is still much you can do to slow the progress of the disease.
OBSTRUCTIVE – The ability to move air flow in and out of your lungs is blocked or obstructed. This is caused by swelling and extra mucus in the tubes of the lungs (airways) which carry air in and out.
PULMONARY – This means that the disease is located in your lungs.
DISEASE – Your lungs have some damage. But even though a cure hasn’t been found yet, your symptoms can be treated.
Symptoms of COPD can be different for each person, but typical symptoms include:
Breathlessness when active
A cough that won’t go away and may produce mucus
Tightness in the chest
Frequent chest infections
Why does COPD Happen ?
Smoking is the most common cause of COPD. (About 80-90 percent of people with COPD smoked.) The likelihood of developing COPD increases with – the more you smoke and the longer you’ve been smoking. This is because smoking irritates and inflames the lungs, which results in scarring.
COPD can also be caused by breathing-in lung irritants like smoke at workplace, chemical fumes, air pollution and dust for many years.
In some cases, COPD can be genetic (passed from your parents to you).
COPD is usually diagnosed after a consultation with your doctor, which may be followed by breathing tests (including Spirometry or lung function test or pulmonary function test).
Spirometry measures how much air your lungs can hold and how fast you can blow the air out of your lungs. Spirometry is also used to track how your COPD is progressing.
Treatments for COPD
Although the damage that has already occurred to your lungs cannot be reversed, correct treatment can slow down the progression of the disease and improve the COPD symptoms. This makes it easier for you to breathe and feel better.
Stopping smoking is particularly effective at doing this.
Treatments for COPD usually involve :
1. Medication : Majority of the COPD symptoms can be relieved with medication. Medicines must be taken as directed by your doctor. COPD medicines usually help in a lot ways that makes breathing easier.
Relax the muscles around the lungs’ breathing tubes
Reduce swelling in the breathing tubes
Reduce mucus production
2. Pulmonary rehabilitation : If you are having difficulty with your breathing or become short of breath when performing your normal daily routines, Pulmonary rehab can particularly be of great help. It may also help increase the amount of exercise you are capable of doing.
Studies have shown that pulmonary rehabilitation programmes are extremely effective in treating COPD. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), UK has produced various documents supporting the use of pulmonary rehabilitation programmes.
Pulmonary rehab programmes significantly improve the patient’s health by reducing breathlessness, providing ways to control the disease and by improving the patient’s ability to carry out daily activities, such as bathing and dressing.
Physiotherapy and Pulmonary Rehabilitation
Pulmonary rehabilitation is a treatment program. It provides exercise training, education about COPD, tips on how to complete everyday activities without becoming so short of breath and advice on how to live better with your disease. Physiotherapists trained in pulmonary function are specially trained to run the pulmonary rehab for COPD patients. They use specialized physiotherapy techniques to help people cope with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and its symptoms.
Pulmonary experts at ReLiva Physiotherapy & Rehab can design a program specific to your COPD condition and lifestyle and help you lead a better life with fewer incidents of flare-ups.
People living with COPD can benefit enormously if they receive proper treatment including Pulmonary rehabilitation. They can live longer, have less pain, anxiety, depression and fatigue, a better quality of life and are more active and independent by simply learning to manage th eir condition properly.
Painful knees are a very common occurrence among the elderly and so was with Mr Narayanaswamy. He continued to live with painful knees which eventually hampered his everyday activity. There was chronic pain and despite medication his walking and general movement began to decline. He continued to console himself that the reduced activity and stamina was owing to his increasing age.
But after a prolonged period of about two years, by when he was bed-ridden and almost totally inactive – he underwent total knee replacement as advised by his doctor.
After an initial rehab of knee replacement, an average person usually reports significant improvement in walking and other movements. Unfortunately Mr Narayanaswamy was not showing any signs of recovery. Instead he consistently suffered from fever and weight loss. Eventually a TB infection was diagnosed that had affected the TKR implant too. So a revision surgery had to be performed on him shortly, thereafter.
It is at this stage that I got to meet Mr S. Narayanaswamy – who had gone through so much in the last two years. Not just being physically weak he was feeling mentally drained too. He recalls “After I came from the hospital, I was very low on physical as well as mental strength. I was depressed also. Even the slightest of movement made me breathless.”
I was to be his home visit Physiotherapist from ReLiva. On his initial assessment, I realized that it was not just his stamina, he was even having difficulty balancing himself while standing. He had been bed-ridden and completely inactive for more than a year.
As a physiotherapist, I identified that his immediate goal was to improve his balance, regain strength and thereafter build up his stamina. All of these eventually will help him regain self-confidence.
Together we worked hard day-in and day-out. I would visit him regularly at his place and work on his goals through a combination of therapy and exercises. Gradually he showed signs of recovery and began to stand properly on his own. We systematically progressed to the next set of exercises. Now I had prescribed him several movements to be done on his own during the rest of the day. The committed and sincere person that he was, he would do those home exercises diligently on most occasions. We were moving from one strength to another.
It was at the end of another session of physiotherapy when he broke the news with a beaming smile that he was thinking of visiting his daughter abroad!
We had come a long way. Here was a man who was completely bed-ridden for a year and a half and could not even speak on the telephone for more than a minute and NOW – he wanted to travel overseas! He was daring to dream and together we shall have to make his dream come true! We now worked towards a deadline when he could walk independently to take this long journey on his own.
After another bout of intense physiotherapy, he reported, “my energy level has gone up, I have regained my emotional strength, there is no depression, no breathlessness! I am walking properly and climbing stairs.”
Last, I saw him the day before he was to take his flight and he walked on his own with his walking stick. We did some strengthening exercises which he would continue doing on his own while he was away. He told me that “I am a happy individual now. I am back to life!” … what he didn’t realise was : What a happy and delighted therapist he was leaving behind in me watching his dream come true!
As shared by Dr Shrutika Parab (PT). Dr Shrutika is a home visit physiotherapist with ReLiva Physiotherapy. She is immensely popular among her clients for her enthusiastic and positive approach. You can contact her directly at ReLiva (+91 9920991584) or email to her at email@example.com.
“Your Victory is right around the corner. Never Give up”
I think this quote very appropriately fits one of my patients – Mr Anand Rai (Name changed for patient privacy).
Mr. Rai (Or Rai uncle, as he prefers me to call him) is 71 yrs old retired Engineer who was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD) about thirty year back! When I first saw him for consultation, I was looking at a very tired, breathless and weak looking old man. Despite his many difficulties, he seemed to own an amazing ‘spirit’, a great ‘will’ to get better and a beautiful ‘smile’ on his face.
Let’s take this chance to give someone what most breathless patients miss! We don’t know and most of the time THEY also don’t know that it is possible to better manage and even reduce the Asthma Attacks / COPD episodes and AVOID related Hospitalisation. Share this story with someone you know…
I was told that Mr Rai had an episode of severe breathlessness, excessive sweating and total black-out one month back, when he was shopping for vegetables. He was immediately taken to the hospital, and admitted there for a week. He had been home bound, since then. After month-long restrictions, due to severe breathlessness and lack of endurance, he was now even scared to go out! Imagine the mental condition of a person, who loves outdoors, travelling, socializing, but because of his condition, is restricted to his house. I still remember his first words to me, “Dr. Kashmira, please make me better, so that I can go out and enjoy the rains when it comes and take a walk in the garden independently.” Another significant factor in his history was that he was a chain smoker for over 30 years, and still smoked 4 cigarettes a day.
Further assessment and observation revealed that he had very-less to no air-entry in the lower zones of his chest. The whole chest was filled with congestion. His overall endurance was very poor, the sputum was greenish yellow in colour, which meant presence of infection in the lungs. All these factors together contributed to severe breathlessness, which could happen even when he was JUST SITTING, without doing any activity! After further (simple) tests and viewing his reports, I discussed his treatment protocol with him.
I have always felt that a patient should be an active participant of his treatment protocol, he should know what his condition is, what protocol we are following for him and how will he benefit from that. His whole and sole goal was to go out for a walk. Even though this seems quite simple to us, imagine how difficult it would be for a person, who cannot walk even a few steps without halting to catch a breath. But what is life without a few challenges in it?! We started working towards our goal together.
When we started with the protocol, my first and foremost goal was to remove or reduce the
main culprit for his severe breathlessness – accumulation of secretions in his chest. So, I started with a combination of steam, Chest Physiotherapy, positioning for the patient and various other techniques. In the next few days, secretion had come down a bit, but the process was painfully slow. But as the saying goes, ‘Slow and steady wins the race’, we continued. And soon his secretions were under control, he was able to move with minimal breathlessness within the house.
Our next challenge was to improve his endurance so that he would feel less tired. So we started with endurance training and secretion removal on alternate days. There were many ups and downs during the therapy. One such incident was when, his friend visited him at his place, and they were chatting continuously for hours together. And when I met him the next day, I was shocked to see him again severely breathless; I felt I will have to start all over again from ground zero. But luckily his condition improved the next day, when he sincerely followed my instruction of not talking the whole day, unless absolutely necessary. He still laughs till date, remembering the stern expression on my face.
Finally after 20 sessions of therapy the day arrived when, it was time for him to step out for a walk, I still remember the joy and also the anxiousness on his face. Before we went downstairs together, I gave him a few important tips, and simply asked him to believe in himself. And we did it! He was able to walk with minimal breathlessness inside the building compound and he was able to climb the stairs as well!
I continued the therapy for 10 more sessions, because we still needed to improve his endurance during walking and stair climbing. On 30th session, I discharged him, I still remember the words he said to me that day, “Dr. Kashmira, I don’t feel like calling you a doctor.” A bit confused I asked him why.
He answered, “I feel like calling you ‘beta’, because now you’re like a daughter to me.” And I didn’t know how to reply to that, so I just smiled.
Contributed by Dr. Kashmira Khedgaonkar (PT). She is an ever smiling Physiotherapist with ReLiva Physiotherapy & Rehab ( www.reliva.in ) who has a special trait of gaining confidence of the toughest of people. She deserves it rightly so, with her skills to put her learning to practice to enable their recovery.
DISCLAIMER: Picture of Pulmonary Physiotherapy session does not represent the patient in the story and used for representational purpose only.
Most people have no idea that THIS is what patients of Asthma and COPD have to face during acute episodes of breathlessness. Read on to discover how he got back to his everyday life ! If you know a fellow Asthma/ COPD fighter, please SHARE this story.