The official blog of the Lung Institute.
Constant fatigue and a lack of energy are common for individuals living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Symptoms of COPD not only deplete your physical strength and energy, but can also impact your emotional health. With COPD, breathing becomes difficult and labored. COPD reduces airflow in and out of the lungs, therefore reducing the air supply for the whole body. Without receiving adequate amounts of oxygen, your body will feel tired and exhausted. Many of those with COPD are all too familiar with the associated fatigue that comes along with the disease, however, there are steps that you can take to fight it.
Understanding COPD-Related Fatigue
Fatigue is a symptom of COPD on several different levels. In its most basic sense, COPD impairs airflow. Without the proper exchange of gases, the body can’t get the amount of oxygen it desperately needs. Eventually, the sufferer will develop low blood oxygen levels, or hypoxemia. When a body is low on oxygen, it will feel tired. This becomes cyclical in nature, as the fatigue disallows a person to properly inhale and exhale air, therefore causing further fatigue.
Another reason COPD sufferers often suffer from fatigue is lack of exercise and low muscle strength. When someone has COPD, they have significant lung damage, which causes a decrease in lung function. As a result, naturally, many sufferers avoid activities that would force the lungs to work harder. One such activity is exercise. With a long-term inability to exercise, sufferers experience a decrease in muscle strength, which ultimately leads to fatigue.
The problem with fatigue and COPD is that they work together in a vicious cycle. When feeling lethargic because of a lack of oxygen, people are more likely to avoid physical activity. Because they avoid activity, they lose their stamina and grow tired more easily. Eventually, they might find that they are unable to perform even basic daily tasks without becoming winded or greatly fatigued. However, you don’t have to sit back and let COPD-related fatigue rob you of your quality of life. Try these tips to help you combat fatigue and get back to the life you want.
4 Tips for Fighting Fatigue
Exercise is key for combating fatigue and increasing your quality of life. Walking and other physical activity can improve how efficiently your body uses oxygen. This can ultimately help you use less oxygen and therefore feel less fatigued.
Sleep disturbance is one of the most common symptoms reported by patients with COPD. It is estimated that over 40 percent of patients experience trouble sleeping. By working to improve your sleep, your body can be more rested and prepared for the next day. Try to sleep for the necessary seven to nine hours a night, and if you aren’t sleeping well, consider a new sleeping position.
Drink Plenty of Water
Staying hydrated can have a positive impact on reducing your fatigue. Dehydration causes increased fatigue, and individuals with COPD are at an increased risk for dehydration. Why? As the body ages, the kidneys are unable to conserve as much water to maintain fluid balance, so thirst commonly dwindles with age. Lung conditions like COPD are worsened by dehydration. In fact, by staying hydrated, sufferers can actually minimize their symptoms, as additional water will reduce the viscosity of their mucus.
Start Treating your Condition
Improving your condition can make a huge difference on your fatigue levels. Now, thanks to medical advancements like stem cell therapy, COPD sufferers are finally breathing easier and living better. Stem cell patients report a higher quality of life and the opportunity to get back to the life they want, which means less fatigue and more fun.