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Have you heard of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease? No… well maybe you’ve heard of it in its abbreviated form, COPD.
Hearing those 4 letters from your doctor immediately means it’s time for a major lifestyle adjustment. You see, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the 3rd leading cause of death right here in the United States of America.
In fact, COPD impacts more than 11 million people, but those are just people that have received an official diagnosis. It’s estimated that millions more people suffer from this progressive lung disease without even knowing it.
Currently, there is no cure for COPD, meaning that once you are diagnosed with this lung disease you will face long-term disability and an increased likelihood of an early death.
COPD is what’s known as an umbrella term, which encompasses chronic bronchitis and emphysema. The most common reason for developing COPD is due to cigarette smoke. However, not everyone who has COPD was once a smoker as exposure to second-hand smoke increases your chances for developing COPD.
But that’s not the only cause. Other causes include long-term exposure to pollution and fumes, or family genetics could be the deciding factor for if you develop COPD or not.
Today we are going to discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatments for COPD. Plus, a lot more including how you can use cannabidiol (CBD) to help treat the symptoms of your COPD to help improve your overall quality of life starting today!
Causes of COPD
Although we already touched on the causes of COPD briefly above, this is an important topic as it can help you protect yourself against known irritants so you can reduce your risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
The 3 main causes of COPD include:
Tobacco Smoke - Smoking cigarettes is extremely unhealthy, especially if you have been smoking for years or decades. But cigarettes aren’t the only culprits. You can also get COPD from tobacco products such as cigar and pipe smoke. Even if you aren’t a smoker yourself, being exposed to second-hand smoke can also lead to COPD.
Pollution & Fumes - Inhaling toxic air pollution can wreak havoc on your respiratory system that eventually leads to a COPD diagnosis. But you can also get COPD from inhaling chemical fumes, dust, or toxic substances at work.
- Family Genetics - For a small subset of the COPD community, their COPD diagnosis is due to a defect in their DNA. This type of COPD is referred to as alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. This is when your lungs lack enough of the necessary protein to protect your lungs from damage.
How COPD Affects Your Lungs
When you take a look inside your lungs, you will see that they are made up of tiny sacs known as alveoli. And their job is to fill up with oxygen each time you breathe. The inhaled oxygen is then passed into your bloodstream, while your lungs expel the stale air.
But when you are diagnosed with COPD, these tiny air sacs are damaged and are unable to function properly.
Specifically, the walls that separate the alveoli break down, causing your airways to become swollen and clogged with thick and sticky mucus. Making it increasingly harder for your lungs to push out stale air.
As a result, your body is no longer being supplied with fresh oxygen from each breath. This then leads to the leading symptom of COPD, shortness of breath.
However, COPD is a slowly progressing respiratory disease, so what we discussed above will happen very slowly over time. It may even take years for you to notice any changes.
Another reason as to why there are so many people out there that have COPD but have yet to receive an official diagnosis.
Symptoms of COPD
Now that you are aware of how exactly chronic obstructive pulmonary disease impacts your lungs, it’s now time for us to discuss the symptoms of this progressive lung disease.
At the beginning, your COPD may cause mild symptoms or you may not experience any at all. But as your disease progressively gets worse, your symptoms will typically become increasingly more severe.
Some common signs/symptoms of COPD can include:
- Frequent Cough (Smokers Cough)
- Coughing Up Phlegm
- Shortness of Breath; Especially During Physical Exertion
- Chest Tightness
- Wheezing While Breathing
- Blue Lips or Fingernails
If you think that you have COPD after talking with your doctor, there are a few methods that can be used to diagnose COPD. These can include:
- Pulmonary Function Tests Such as Spirometry or Lung Diffusion Capacity Test
- Chest X Ray
- CT Scan
- Arterial Blood Gas Test
Standard COPD Treatments
As we mentioned earlier COPD currently has no cure. But there are a few steps that you can take to help manage and even slow the overall progression of this nasty lung disease.
When it comes to treating COPD, the goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms, slow the progression of the disease, improve your overall exercise tolerance, prevent and treat complications, and to improve the quality of your overall health.
The first step you should take following a COPD diagnosis is to enroll in a local pulmonary rehab clinic. Where you will be surrounded by like-minded individuals as well as healthcare professionals that will assist in developing a treatment plan that includes exercise, nutrition, treatment tips, and much more!
You will also want to make some major lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking once and for all. Other lifestyle improvements will include cutting out unhealthy foods in exchange for fruits and veggies, as well as maintaining a regular exercise routine.
Some other COPD treatments include:
- Medications - Bronchodilators, Inhaled Steroids
- Vaccines - Flu Shots, Pneumonia
- Oxygen Therapy - Portable/Home Oxygen Concentrators, or Oxygen Tanks
- Surgery - Bullectomy, Lung Volume Reduction, Lung Transplant
Treating COPD with CBD
One of the most well-known benefits of cannabidiol (CBD) is its effectiveness in reducing inflammation.
Call it a coincidence or not, but the leading symptom of COPD is breathlessness due to airway inflammation. So if CBD is effective for reducing inflammation, then these properties should also apply to airway inflammation, right?
Well yes, CBD and other cannabinoids like THC have been shown to be potentially beneficial for minimizing airway inflammation in patients with COPD.
When it comes to cannabinoids such as CBD and THC, their medical properties are so widely effective due to them interacting with your body’s endocannabinoid system receptors (ECS).
These receptors are referred to as CB1 and CB2. Once CBD is delivered into your body, these receptors are activated and this has been shown to alleviate airway inflammation.
Benefits of Using Cannabidiol to Treat COPD
If you are diagnosed with COPD, using cannabidiol oil can help reduce inflammation in your airways, improve sleep quality, reduce mucus production, increase appetite, reduce pain, while delivering bronchodilatory effects.
Whether you or a loved one are diagnosed with COPD, if you chose to pursue alternative treatment through the use of CBD. We do not recommend that you smoke to receive your dose of cannabidiol.
As smoking is a trigger for COPD exacerbations that can lead to worsening symptoms, it’s best that you avoid this medium in all.
Instead of smoking CBD, you can opt for the following options:
- CBD Edibles - Delectable CBD gummies and candies. You can also make your own infused edibles at home using a tincture or isolate crystals.
- CBD Topicals - If you are struggling with transdermal pain, topicals provide a quick and effective treatment for aches and pains associated with COPD.
- CBD Tinctures - Extremely fast acting with a high bioavailability, meaning you will receive a higher potency of CBD. You simply drop the serving size under your tongue, hold for 30 seconds, and swallow and effects will begin to kick in rather quickly.
- CBD Isolate Crystals - As mentioned above, these can be used to make your own infused tinctures or edibles at home.
- CBD Capsules - As a COPD patient you are already accustomed to take pills daily. So why not go with what you know best and use CBD infused capsules that you can quickly swallow wherever you are for quick relief from COPD symptoms.
- CBD Inhalers - Just like bronchodilators or other inhalers, CBD inhalers function the same way by delivering a proper dose of CBD through the inhalation of tiny particles.
Now that you are aware of the potential benefits that CBD can have on your overall management and treatment of COPD. It’s time for you to consider if this will be a viable and effective treatment option for you. But before you jump on the CBD bandwagon, you should first speak with your doctor to see if CBD could interfere with any of the medications you are currently taking.
After all, we love CBD, but we want to make sure you are safe and that it won’t interfere with any of your COPD medications.
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