Lamaze breathing is a traditional method taught for childbirth.1 Pranayama is breathwork practiced during yoga.2 Breathing exercises are also employed as a method to manage anxiety and stress.3 In each instance, the prevailing theme is control. But people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who experience shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, and chest tightness may feel a loss of control over respiratory symptoms that impact daily life.4,5 To that end, November is COPD Awareness Month, a time to encourage people with these symptoms to reach out for help, and take back control while it’s still possible.
The COPD landscape
COPD is an umbrella term that includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. An estimated 15 million U.S. adults have been diagnosed with COPD—more than half are women—but millions more may have the condition without realizing it.4 COPD is a major cause of disability and the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S.4
The distinctions between emphysema and chronic bronchitis are subtle, and most people have a combination of both:5
• Emphysema—Walls of the air sacs in the lungs are destroyed and the air sacs lose shape.
• Chronic bronchitis—Airway lining in the lungs becomes swollen and inflamed and excess mucus is produced.