Causes and Treatment for Hyperinflated Lungs with COPD
It was shocking to hear the diagnosis of COPD. We always thought mom’s pain was from her gall bladder surgery, so the news about lung pain was a relief in some ways. At least now she knew exactly what was causing the discomfort. As it happened, she had to deal with this new diagnosis. It was easier not knowing. Ignorance is bliss, and knowledge required action. It was time to roll up our sleeves and learn about the causes and treatment for hyperinflated lungs with COPD.
What causes hyperinflated lungs?
Stretched out lungs
As mom continued to smoke even after dealing with a chronic cough and lung inflammation, it created damage. Her air sacs began to stretch out every time she breathed in. When one part of her lung got hard and filled with scars, her body adapted. Her lungs simply expanded out in another direction. It is like pinching off a long skinny balloon to make a toy poodle. One part of the lung gets squeezed off and another part poofs out. There are treatments and I hope that if you have hyperextended lungs, you use them like my mom did. She lived many happy years after the diagnosis.
Pursed mouth breathing
One of the first things you can do is learn how to breath better. By slowing down her breath, mom was able to focus. We practiced taking long slow deep breaths and then holding it for even one second. Then she would make a tiny “O” with her lips, and let the air out slowly. She learned to count in to 4, hold for 4, and then exhale counting as high as she could.
Paying attention to posture can really help increase your lung capacity in a good way. Using your back muscles to sit up straight is one of the best ways to open up your diaphragm and allow your chest to expand properly. Mom spent most of her day kind of slumped in an easy chair. The rest of the time was at her computer desk. In either case, her forward leaning movement kept her shoulders curled forward. This inhibited opening up her chest. Eventually, it led to back pain, chest pain, and lung pain from hyperinflation.
Even a little bit of mild exercise can increase your lung capacity. It builds endurance for your cardiovascular system too. If your heart and lungs are working together, the overall outcome is a stronger body. Mom balked at this one. We even got in a fight about it. My cheerful “can do” mom was mad that her lungs were in this shape. I gave her some space and let her work with a pulmonary doctor in rehabilitation. After THEY gave her some exercises to do, and taught her how to do them, I got to help.
Many doctors will advise over the counter or prescription medication. Mom was getting increasing anxiety with her pain and decreased ability to breathe. She wanted to quit smoking too. The doctor was able to find an anti-depressant that could help her quit smoking, and calm her nerves down too.
Having a diagnosis of COPD with lung pain was a tough time in our whole family’s lives. Mom was becoming weak, and was now mad at herself. She had to learn the causes and treatment for hyperinflated lungs with COPD. It was the beginning of a whole new phase of life for her.
How has your experience been navigating the healthcare system as someone with COPD?