Feeling tired with COPD?

lady looking out to sea

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease can leave you feeling tired and sluggish but how to help combat this feeling so you can plan ahead for everything no matter what condition you have.

Here our 4 tips to remember:

  1. Remember that you may need supplemental oxygen to help you breathe, especially when you go on vacation
  2. Especially during winter you may be low on Vitamin D so make sure you take this supplement when days are short and mornings are dark
  3. Remember to REST. When walking or doing activities plan in some rest breaks and do not try to over exert yourself too much, you will simply become very tired or wear yourself out for the rest of the day
  4. Exercise such as walking or cycling is a good form of cardio than can be done most days for about 30 minutes


For those that suffer with chronic conditions such as COPD one of the major symptoms that patients suffer with is fatigue and it is important to try and combat this as mobility and exercise is crucial to help curb the disease and its symptoms. Oxygen therapy has been shown to help combat fatigue as the additional oxygen getting into your blood stream will help to supply more oxygen to your cells to help them to function more efficiently and your brain and body in general will feel more alert and active. However if oxygen therapy does not combat your fatigue then eating carnitine-enriched foods or by taking carnitine supplements, could help to combat this.
Our bodies produce carnitine naturally in most of our cells from amino acids and it plays a crucial role in energy production within the mitochondria of our cells. It is thought that faulty mitochondria play a vital role in diseases such as COPD and that this may be the cause of the fatigue experienced by patients with chronic conditions as the mitochondria cannot perform its duties and one of these is to produce energy for the cell.
Carnitine transports fatty acids to the mitochondria so they can use it to produce energy and also helps to transport waste products out of the mitochondria to prevent buildup.
A lack of carnitine in our body could be due to a genetic problem or due to metabolic disturbances caused by disease but normally it is produced in sufficient amounts in the liver and kidneys. It has other properties such as being an antioxidant and fights off free radicals, which can damage the cells.
Supplements can be taken or there are foods that contain high levels of carnitine such as beef steak and other red meats, milk, chicken breast and cheddar cheese.
A recent study looking at the effect of taking carnitine when suffering from conditions such as COPD found that ‘these supplements can reduce significantly the fatigue and other symptoms associated with chronic disease and can naturally restore mitochondrial function, even in long-term patients with intractable fatigue.” Other studies have also shown that carnitine supplementation can help with blood supply problems, heart defects and attacks and Alzeihmer’s. Even athletes use carnitine supplementation to help improve performance and reduce muscle fatigue.
References: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com

Could oxygen therapy help to alleviate symptoms for M.E patients?

ME or Myalgic Encephalopathy is one of a few different names that are given to what is an illness of uncertain cause that affects thousands of people. It is also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), Post-viral Fatigue Syndrome (PVFS) and Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS). All types of people of all ages are affected and for many years much controversy surrounded ME as the whether it was in fact an illness at all. Patients suffer from severe and debilitating fatigue, painful muscles and joints, disturbed sleep, gastric disturbances, poor memory and concentration and the onset is usually linked to a viral infection, operation or an accident, although some suffer a slow steady onset.

In some patients the effects are minimal but for others lives are changed drastically. In the young school-life can be severely disrupted and for older patients employment can become impossible. Social/family life can become restricted and many are housebound or even bed-bound for months or years.
Any vigorous exercise such as running or biking can result in the patient being bed-bound and most patients focus on more mild exercising like walking, swimming, tai chi etc.
A study discovered that patients were getting the blood they needed to the muscles but for some reason they weren’t taking up the oxygen very quickly and it took longer for the oxygen levels to get back to normal after exercise.
It could be that the mitochondria in the cells which use oxygen to produce energy could be damaged. These mitochondria also would normally pump damaging free-radicals out of the cell which could interfere with muscle metabolism and cause pain.
Oxygen uptake into the cells would also normally neutralise lactate build-up created during exercise and in the patients in the study it took longer for the oxygen to neutralise the toxic build-up in the cells after exercise.
Another study found that in ME patients specifically that there was significantly lower blood volumes which could account for lower oxygen levels, on average a 20% reduction, which could be cause by the nervous system. In fact some doctors believe that ME may be caused by low oxygen levels. An additional theory is that the nervous system shuts down blood vessels when an ME patient is at rest and then fails to open them up sufficiently when you become active, which is a bad combination when the patient cannot sleep at night and then cannot fulfil any activities during the day.
If low oxygen levels are a root cause of ME then it is being researched at the moment as to whether increasing oxygen levels ie via home oxygen therapy would help to alleviate the symptoms of this disease. Many patients with other conditions such as COPD and Sleep Apnoea have discovered that by using oxygen for these other conditions it has also alleviated their ME symptoms as well. Some find that a 15minute session twice a day can help to nip the symptoms in the bud, others did not or found that longer or more frequent sessions were needed. Others find it helpful to have oxygen on board the air plane when travelling on holiday as before they had experienced increased symptoms whilst away on previous holidays. Patient’s with Sleep Apnoea have found that oxygen not only helped with their sleep but made them feel more energised and decreased the severity of their fatigue in the mornings and made the syndrome much easier to live with. It seems to vary from patient to patient as to if and how it helps, as for example some COPD patients find that their oxygen tanks and concentrators helped, whereas others found that only by switching machines to a CPAP machine did it help with their ME symptoms.
It seems from the evidence and patient feedback that there is a link and that increasing oxygen intake to increase blood oxygen levels does, in most cases help to alleviate or extinguish ME symptoms. However with the syndrome itself still unexplained and only a few studies having been carried out so far on this topic, much more research is needed to conclusively prove the link. Also as patients sometimes have a mixture of different inter-linking conditions and causes of their ME symptoms, different patients may respond differently so it may be a case of trial and error as to how you can increase your oxygen levels in a way that will work to alleviate your ME symptoms.
Reference: www.meassociation.org.uk and www.cortjohnson.org and www.actionforme.org.uk