8 best strategies for living well with COPD


8 best strategies for living well with COPD

Receiving a diagnosis of COPD can be scary.  Questions of “what does my future hold” and “can I still enjoy the activities I like to do,” understandably are of paramount concern.  This incurable lung condition can make life challenging as it progresses but with a little planning and strategizing, it can make a world of difference in helping yourself breathe easier and still remain active.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an umbrella term for a number of lung diseases that can lead to disability and even death.  This condition includes emphysema, chronic bronchitis, severe asthma, or a combination of these conditions.  Overtime, they can cause inflammation, destruction, or abnormal repair of airways and lung tissue, which reduces airflow and ultimately makes it harder to take in enough oxygen to supply the body.

COPD develops slowly and usually worsens over time.  In the beginning stages, someone with COPD may not have any symptoms.   But as it progresses, the condition can become worse making the ability to breathe and live normally increasingly difficult.

To slow down the pace of COPD preventing your ability to live as you wish, there are certain lifestyle changes to make if you want to avoid harming your health worsening the condition.  Here are 8 changes that can have a positive impact on better managing COPD helping your breathe easier and feel better:

1.  Clean your house regularly

Dust, secondhand smoke, and fumes from paint or other household chemicals are all irritants to your lungs.  Cleaning your house regularly can make a big difference on reducing irritants that will make COPD worse.  Never allow anyone to smoke in your home and avoid being around people who do smoke.  If you are unable to clean your own home, hire someone who can help you.

2.  Become more physically active

Always consult with your doctor who manages your COPD first on their advice on exercise but generally, as long as you participate in an activity best for you, it is encouraged.  Not exercising can cause you to get out of shape making normal daily activities more difficult.  By exercising regularly, this can help reduce symptoms of depression and may even give you more energy.

3.  Avoid overexerting yourself

Exercise is important but at the same time, be careful not to overdo it.  Going overboard can be dangerous as people with COPD have lower exercise thresholds and usually are not able to exercise vigorously.  Do physical activities at a slow pace at least three to four times each week.

4.  Always take your oxygen tank with you wherever you go

Wherever you go, your oxygen tank needs to go too – don’t leave home without it.   People with COPD need oxygen due to low resting saturation levels and without oxygen, it puts an excess strain on the heart. 

5.  Stop drinking soda

Weight gain can be one side effect of consuming soda but another is the fact carbonated beverages like soda, can cause your stomach to swell up.  As your stomach swells, it pushes up against your diaphragm, making it harder to breathe.  Choose healthier beverage options such as water, unsweetened tea, green tea or coffee. 

6.  Keep hydrated

Speaking of water, keeping well-hydrated is another crucial component to managing COPD more effectively.  Without enough water, your mucus can become thick, sticking to your lung which only adds to the burden of being able to breathe well.  Aim for at least 8 to 10 cups of water daily. 

7.   Keep calm

A chronic lung condition can be challenging and stressful to deal with in addition to any work and family obligations you may have.  If you are feeling an enormous amount of stress, consider joining a support group.  Meeting regularly and talking with others who also have COPD can help you feel less alone, allows you to talk about your feelings, and can teach you better ways to cope with a chronic condition. 

8.  Make healthy food choices

Eating a healthy diet is good for everyone but especially for people with COPD.  The worst thing to do is eat junk food high in calories that contribute to weight gain worsening your ability to breathe and exercise.  Plus junk foods are often high in sodium which can cause fluid retention that could result in congestion also obstructing breathing.  Choose plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, nuts and seeds, beans, seafood, and lean sources of poultry and beef.