What Are the Best Natural Treatments for Chronic Lung Disease?

If you are living with chronic lung disease, you probably want to learn everything you can about treating your symptoms. Chronic lung disease has no cure, so it is important to learn how to manage your disease to slow the progression of your symptoms. Shortness of breath and other breathing difficulties can get in the way of your life, so continue living as normally as possible by finding multiple ways to improve your health and ease your symptoms to help you breathe easier. 

Avoid Lung Irritants

Most chronic lung disease results from exposure to toxic lung irritants. As such, avoiding further exposure to any irritants helps prevent exacerbating your symptoms. Tobacco smoke is the leading cause of most chronic lung diseases; therefore, the first step is to quit smoking if you are a smoker, and to avoid secondhand smoke at all costs. However, tobacco smoke is not the only lung irritant you come into contact with. You may have little control over the air quality outdoors, but there is quite a bit you can do indoors. Here is how to improve the quality of your indoor air to avoid making your breathing problems more severe. 

  • Make sure you have adequate air flow: Open the windows when outdoor air is clean, and use an air filtration system and allergen filters inside your home to help filter the air. 
  • Keep your home tidy: Vacuum regularly and avoid clutter to minimize the amount of dust and/or pet dander that can build up over time.
  • Wash your linens regularly: Wash your sheets and other bed linens once a week to reduce dust mite exposure.
  • Avoid harsh chemical cleaning products: Toxic and chemical fumes can make breathing problems worse, so aim for natural cleansers whenever possible.

Stay Healthy and Active

foods that cause mucusA critical part of keeping your lungs healthy is ensuring that you manage your overall health, too. Staying healthy requires maintaining a healthy weight and keeping your muscles active to fight muscle weakness, fatigue and worsening breathing difficulties. Here are some ways to keep your body and lungs active so that you feel better overall. 

  • Eat a balanced diet: Eating a balanced diet helps you maintain a healthy weight and keeps your energy up. Patients with chronic lung disease often experience excess fatigue along with shortness of breath, so a healthy diet and weight can reduce the strain on your lungs and help you maintain the energy to participate in daily activities. Aim for vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, eggs and lean meats. Avoid foods that cause bloating, which can aggravate shortness of breath.

  • Do breathing exercises: Breathing exercises help you practice using the correct muscles to breathe efficiently and effectively, and they can help you breathe easier when you are exercising or struggling for breath. Diaphragmatic breathing, pursed-lip breathing or even pranayama breathing exercises taught in yoga classes can help you learn to use controlled breathing techniques to get more air and ease the anxiety that often comes with shortness of breath.
  • Look into pulmonary rehabilitation: If your doctor decides it is right for you, pulmonary rehabilitation can have a dramatic impact on your chronic lung disease symptoms. Because pulmonary rehab includes a variety of treatments—including physical exercise, mental and nutritional counseling, education and general support—it helps you maintain your overall health and can significantly improve your exercise tolerance.
  • Find exercise you enjoy: Exercising keeps your muscles strong and helps fight fatigue. Many people with chronic lung disease avoid exercise because they find it difficult to breathe. With the right guidance and treatments, you can participate in moderate exercise that improves your overall health and quality of life. Consider strength training, interval training, walking, yoga or water exercise, and talk to your doctor about how to ensure that you can breathe as easily as possible during your exercise. Supplemental oxygen may also help.

Take Care of Your Mental Health

It is important to take care of your mental and emotional state along with your physical health. Many people with chronic lung disease experience regular anxiety, depression or stress that stems from difficulty breathing and the progression of their disease. Unfortunately, that stress and anxiety can cause flare-ups or dips in your immune system, creating an unfortunate cycle. While staying active can help your mental state significantly, it is also helpful to look into treatments specifically designed to help you cope with your disease. Consider the following:  

  • Therapy or counseling
  • Join a support group
  • Go to a mindfulness or meditation training 
  • Sign up for pulmonary rehab, which usually includes counseling

However you choose to support your own mental health, you will benefit your overall health and for your long-term quality of life. You may even help prevent exacerbations, too. 

Take the Right Supplements

While vitamins and supplements will not cure chronic lung disease, they may help manage your symptoms. Talk to your doctor before beginning any new supplements or medications—even when they are over the counter—as they may interact with other medications you take. If your doctor approves them, the following supplements could be beneficial for your breathing and your overall health. 

  • Co-enzyme Q10 with creatine: These naturally occurring chemicals keep your cells healthy and are essential for mitochondrial function. Studies show that supplementing with CoQ10 and creatine, along with a balanced diet, can improve exercise tolerance, reduce shortness of breath and support lean muscle building in patients with chronic lung disease.
  • Vitamin D: Insufficient vitamin D can cause increased inflammation in the airways and the inability to adequately clear bacteria from the system, putting chronic lung disease patients at increased risk of flare-ups and respiratory infection. Studies show people with advanced chronic lung disease often have low vitamin D levels, so supplements may help minimize the likelihood of exacerbations.
  • Echinacea: This herb has long been used to help prevent the development of cold and flu. One study shows that it could help reduce the duration and severity of exacerbations.
  • Breathing steam with eucalyptus oil: To minimize the chance of exacerbations, studies show that the eucalyptol compound in eucalyptus oil can help open the airways, provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits, reduce mucus production and help clear mucus. Add 12 drops per 5 oz. of boiling water and breathe the steam 3 times daily.

Natural Treatments Can Complement Traditional Treatments 

While natural treatments can be an important part of helping you manage your chronic lung disease, it is important to follow your doctor’s treatment instructions. As your symptoms and disease progress, you will likely be prescribed more traditional treatments and medications, including oxygen therapy

Improving your oxygen intake has a myriad of benefits, helping you to sleep better, retain more energy throughout the day, tolerate exercise better and generally participate in your daily activities. Supplemental oxygen can treat your shortness of breath, helping you get the oxygen you need to feel good and function properly. A portable oxygen concentrator, like those available from Inogen, make oxygen therapy even easier, allowing you to bring your oxygen treatments with you wherever you go. Inogen’s small, lightweight portable oxygen concentrators are made to improve the quality of your life, giving you the oxygen you need anytime, anywhere. Talk to your doctor about how pairing natural treatments with traditional treatments like supplemental oxygen can benefit your chronic lung disease, and ask whether a portable oxygen concentrator is right for your needs. Contact Inogen today to find out how our products can help you breathe better and improve your mobility, freedom and independence.





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