With the average adult taking 12 to 20 breaths a minute1, our lungs are some of our body’s hardest working organs. However, around 1 in 7 Australians aged 40 and over2 are impacted by Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), a range of lung diseases that impact proper breathing.
Environmental pollutants are one of the leading causes of COPD and with hay fever season here, it’s important to put your lung health first by considering lifestyle changes to better manage symptoms. World COPD Day is on 21 November, so Discount Drug Stores’ pharmacist, Melissa Hui, shares her top tips to help ease symptoms during hay fever season.
Those with COPD tend to use up to 50 per cent more energy than those who don’t have the condition due to the body’s increased need to fight off chest infections and flare-ups. A healthy diet can help to better manage unwanted chest infections.Ms Hui explains that COPD can leave many feeling lethargic, so by enjoying a wide variety of nutritious foods, it helps to provide the much needed fuel for a healthy and active lifestyle. “Protein is particularly important for COPD patients undertaking pulmonary rehabilitation plans. Fish, nuts and beans are great sources while Spring offers some delicious produce such as asparagus, silverbeet and spinach which are high in iron and fibre.“It’s always best to consult your GP or nutritionist to map out a meal plan that’s suitable for your situation,” Ms Hui said.
Those with a lung disease are more susceptible to pollutants, which is why it’s important to practice regular hygiene to protect the body from any germ related infections which could potentially induce a flare-up. This includes regularly bathing your cats and dogs, and their toys."Be sure to brush and bathe your pets often to remove loose hair. By regularly washing your pet’s bed and toys, it will minimise pollen exposure which can often get caught in their fur.“Showering can help fight germs particularly during hay fever season where congested noses and constant sneezing is common and can increase the spread of airborne germs. If showering is a challenge, consider purchasing a bath stool. They’re light weight and waterproof, and fit into most bathtubs or showers,” Ms Hui said.
Regular cardio exercise has shown to strengthen the lungs to become more efficient and help expand lung capacity.“Regular exercise can help improve circulation of oxygen which strengthens our muscles. Physical activity will help your body build up its energy levels, making it easier to do daily activities. Patients with COPD can be capable of moderate exercise and doing a couple of aerobic sessions per week can help condition the lungs,” she said. Exercise may be challenging for COPD patients. Consult Doctor or exercise physiologist to discuss plan.
Ms Hui says among the biggest culprits of COPD are cigarettes, cigars, and pipes as well as exposure to second-hand smoke.“We all know cigarettes contain harmful toxins that affect lung functionality so it’s critical to make sure you have a smoke-free home and avoid using anything that will add harsh chemicals to the air – such as air fresheners, candles, and diffusers,” Ms Hui said.
During thunderstorms, rain causes humidity in the air causing pollen grains to burst open and spread through the air. High levels of airborne grass pollens can exacerbate hay fever symptoms and may even trigger asthma flare-ups. With 20% of COPD sufferers also having asthma, it’s important to be extra cautious during these times. “Thunderstorms and weather changes can trigger huge amounts of small pollen allergen particles to enter the air, easily penetrating our airways and eyes. It’s best to avoid being outdoors just before or during thunderstorms especially during Spring and throughout the Summer months,” Ms Hui explains. “Discount Drug Stores offers asthma checks to improve your inhaler technique and to ensure you’re getting the most out of your medication, so if you have concerns about hay fever or asthma, speak to your local pharmacist or health care professional for the best way to manage and reduce your symptoms.” For more information, please visit www.discountdrugstores.com.au.