Many people who have COPD struggle with headaches. Fortunately, this debilitating symptom can be treated, managed and even prevented in some cases. This article from Medical Health Authority shares tips and treatments to help you deal with this problem.
The most common type of COPD headache is a secondary headache that happens when you have too little oxygen and too much carbon dioxide in the blood. This causes the blood vessels in your brain to get wider and results in the throbbing headache you experience. These headaches often happen in the morning when you wake up, but they can also occur during the day. They may also be a symptom of a sleep disorder like obstructive sleep apnea that can be exacerbated by chronic lung disease. This is called COPD-OSA overlap syndrome.
Over-the-counter pain medication like acetaminophen and ibuprofen may help relieve your symptoms. If your doctor recommends stronger medications, be sure to follow their instructions carefully.
Other treatment methods for COPD headaches include bronchodilators and inhaled corticosteroids, which can help reduce inflammation in the lungs and improve breathing efficiency. They can also be used in combination with an oxygen supplementation device that increases the amount of oxygen in your blood.
It is important to keep your body well hydrated and avoid anything that can trigger a COPD flareup. This includes avoiding cigarette smoke and other harmful pollutants, using quick-relief inhalers when needed, exercising regularly, and using pursed lip breathing to save energy and slow your breaths down.