COPD is a challenge for people to live with in many ways. One part of the COPD journey is dealing with constant fatigue. Making lifestyle changes, starting with a program of COPD rehab, is the first step toward ending the fatigue and getting back to functional living.
What is COPD?
COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is a term that covers progressive breathing diseases such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema. These diseases come with a host of symptoms and ailments that make it uncomfortable to do many of the tasks and activities that most of us take for granted. These include shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, and often, fatigue. Although there is no cure for COPD, people who have it can learn to manage it properly and live full, normal, and long lives.
Why does COPD cause fatigue?
People who have COPD often feel like they’re using all of their energy just to breathe – just the act of breathing itself leaves them breathless, and they don’t have energy for anything else, even the simplest of tasks. Even the patients who manage to do other tasks, small or big, eventually become fatigued from the combination of breathing and any other task. Basically, normal living just wipes them out.
What other factors might be contributing?
There are secondary factors as well that can contribute to a feeling of fatigue for COPD patients. They may generally have lower oxygen levels in their bodies because they may not be taking in enough during the day, causing restless sleep at night. They may be susceptible to sleep apnea, they frequently have low levels of vitamin D, and they have a higher chance of having problems with their thyroids. All of these combined makes it likely that a COPD patient is going to frequently feel very tired.
S.O.S. for COPD fatigue
If there is fatigue in place, there are several options for dealing with it in time. All of the factors for fatigue can be dealt with on the instructions of a doctor, who may recommend carrying oxygen around with a device and give a referral for COPD rehab, as well as other ideas.
How can COPD rehab help?
If a patient has severe enough COPD to land himself in a hospital, the doctor will likely recommend pulmonary rehab, which can change and save lives.
A pulmonary rehab program runs for about 12 weeks and involves education and awareness about managing the illness. Trained specialists will form a customized plan for each member of the group, including how to deal with and best avoid fatigue.
Exercise therapists trained specifically in pulmonary issues will teach participants how to exercise without becoming immediately breathless, gaining the benefits of a healthy and active life despite the breathing problems.
Participants will learn about how proper nutrition can energize their bodies, allowing them to operate at optimal functioning. The nutritionist on staff will help each individual find the right diet to increase energy and ward off the signs of fatigue.
Overall, studies have shown that people who attend a COPD rehab program go on to lead healthier and more functional lives.
At Sinai Post Acute Care Center for Rehabilitation, we offer COPD rehab services for those suffering from COPD, fatigue, and the other symptoms associated with the illness.