How your cough can impact on your quality of life

The characteristic symptoms of COPD include a chronic and progressive cough and sputum production that can be variable from day to day; it may start off intermittently but towards the end will be frequent throughout the day.
The cough itself is an important defence mechanism that helps to clear foreign bodies and excess mucus from the lungs to allow better breathing. However a chronic cough has been found to be associated with detrimental psychological and physical effects on the patient’s life.
Depression, muscle strain and fatigue, sleep deprivation, incontinence and vomiting are all directly associated with coughing. Other related symptoms are rib fractures, fatigue, embarrassment, unconsciousness, difficult conversations on the phone, hoarse sound, unable to stand close to the their relatives due to their cough, and an inability to work in school or elsewhere.
In this new study it has been shown that a lower cough-specific quality of life is associated with a lessened ability to carry out daily activities due to its negative effect on fatigue and lower abdominal muscle endurance, and higher depression levels are also usually observed in patients with COPD.
When coughing the contraction of abdominal muscles is required. However with a chronic cough this can lead to a decline in the endurance of these muscles due to repeated overuse and resulting in them working ineffectively and not being able to help aid the cough or mucus clearance.
In a study of COPD patients with chronic coughs 33% were identified as anxious while 16% experienced depression and approximately 48% of all coughers had moderate or high trait anxiety. Also in general patients were at a higher risk of suffering from phobic anxiety, obsessional tendencies and depression showing that this group of individuals suffered from an emotional and psychological impact on their lives from their chronic cough.
53% of the group attended a speciality centre to help treat their chronic cough and depressive symptoms and there was a statistical improvement in both cough severity and depression scores after three months. This reinforces the fact that quality of life and chronic cough are linked but also that there is treatment to help improve both.
If cough is an important part of COPD and contributes to deterioration in quality of life, the symptom should be controlled and see your doctor who can help to ease your cough which in turn will hopefully improve your quality of life whether physically, psychologically or both.
Ensuring that you follow your doctor’s advice regarding medications and oxygen therapy regime, exercising and eating correctly will help to ensure that you are easing the COPD symptoms as much as possible and therefore also the cough. If you find you are coughing more and gasping for breath maybe your medical oxygen requirements need altering; whether it be an increased flow rate or different machinery to fit your lifestyle. Ask your doctor straight away as anything that you can do to ease the coughing and breathlessness will not only instantly improve your medical condition but will indirectly improve your general quality of life.

Oxygen could help in the battle against depression

depressionIn March this year researchers showed that rats exposed to high-altitude conditions exhibited increased depression-like behaviour. This study proved that hypoxia (low oxygen levels) is a distinct risk factor for depression in those that either live at high altitudes or suffer from COPD, asthma or who smoke.
The link between altitude and high depression rates and suicide is very obvious in the intermountain region of the United States where the rates are considerably higher than any other part of America. The region has earned itself the nick-name of the ‘suicide belt’.
Rats are not however subject to the same psychological and social pressures as people are and more research on humans would need to be undertaken in order to substantiate this link. Other risk factors are also important such as poverty, low population and psychiatric disorders. This study shows that this risk factor would be present with everybody who either live in high altitudes or suffer with a condition that results in a lowering of oxygen levels in your blood.
Hypoxia is thought to impair an enzyme involved in the synthesis of serotonin (a compound that contributes to happiness and feelings of well-being), resulting in lower Serotonin levels and leading to depression. Depression is normally treated with anti-depressants however ‘The Utah Paradox’ illustrates how drugs do not necessarily work in high-altitude regions, as Utah has the highest depression index and the highest use of antidepressants in the country.
The fact that both depression and suicide rates increase with altitude, where there are low oxygen levels, implies that antidepressant treatment is not adequate for those suffering from depression and as low oxygen is the main common factor in most cases, maybe this needs to be looked into as a possible new treatment for depression in those that experience low oxygen levels.
Significant improvements were demonstrated when schizophrenic patients underwent oxygen therapy and now they will try it out on sufferers of depression. Oxygen therapy is easy, non-invasive and safe so new research will trial it on sufferers of low and medium-level depression.
Researchers found that exposing psychiatric patients to 40% concentration of oxygen rather than 21% oxygen levels from the air, via a plastic tube is safe and effective and the patients functioned significantly better than those who inhaled normal air. Increasing the supply of oxygen to the brain will increase the function of mitochondria which produce energy in the cells. Poorly functioning mitochondria can disrupt the functioning of neurones and the electrical activity of the brain. Theoretically therefore raising oxygen levels inhaled by patients can improve psychiatric functioning, it now just needs to be proven. If it is proven to be the case then oxygen therapy could relieve depression symptoms in hours/days and weeks compared to antidepressants which can take months and years to take full effect. You wouldn’t be using medications but a natural substance, which is easy to use, cheaper and brings about results a lot quicker, reducing the likelihood of a potential attempt on life.

References: and

Lifestyle Tips To Manage Your COPD

Living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) doesn’t mean you have to stop living your life. Being on the correct medication and oxygen treatment regime is crucial but there are some tips on lifestyle changes that you can make to help you manage the disease.
Stop Smoking
Smoking is the number one cause of chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Together these diseases comprise COPD. If you haven’t already quit, it’s very important to take steps to stop smoking. Talk to your doctor about smoking cessation strategies.
If nicotine withdrawal is a concern, your doctor may be able to prescribe nicotine replacement therapy to help you slowly wean yourself off. Products include gum, inhalers, and patches.
People with COPD should avoid all inhaled irritants such as air pollution, dust, or smoke from wood-burning fireplaces.
Defend Against Infections
People with COPD are at risk for respiratory infections, which can trigger flare-ups. Infections that affect the airways can often be avoided with good hand-washing hygiene. Cold viruses, for instance, are often passed through touch. Simple soap and running water do a good job of removing potentially infectious germs.
It may also be helpful to avoid contact with people who show signs of cold or flu. Your doctor may also recommend an annual flu vaccine.
Focus on Good Nutrition
Eating right is an important way to keep your body and your immune system strong. It may be helpful to eat smaller meals, more often. Try to eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, olive oil, and whole grains. Cut back on red meat, sugar, and processed foods. Following this dietary pattern has been shown to help reduce chronic inflammation, while supplying plenty of fibre, antioxidants, and other nutrients to help keep you healthy.
Your doctor may also recommend nutritional supplements to ensure you’re getting the essential nutrients you need.
Tend to Your Emotional Needs
People living with disabling diseases such as COPD occasionally succumb to anxiety, stress, or depression. Be sure to discuss any emotional issues with your doctor as they may be able to prescribe medications to help you cope or also recommend other approaches to help you cope. This might include meditation, special breathing techniques, or joining a support group. Be open with friends and family about your state of mind and your concerns and let them help in any way they can.
Stay Active and Physically Fit
Research shows that exercise training can improve exercise tolerance and improve quality of life among people with mild to moderate COPD. It can also help provide relief from shortness of breath and improve your mental well-being.
Asking for portable oxygen devices from your supplier can aid you in being more mobile and to have oxygen with you whilst you exercise or carry out more strenuous activities.