COPD, or in its full version, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is used to create a description for chronic, progressive diseases of the lungs. This is not merely one disease, but it can encompass chronic bronchitis, emphysema, refractory asthma (that is not reversible) and some types of bronchiectasis. The main identifying symptom of COPD is not being able to catch one’s breath, which is why lifestyle changes can be so important when learning to cope with COPD. Let’s take a look at a few ways to live in harmony with COPD!
If you are suffering from the effects of COPD, no longer smoking should be a given, however, some people still find it hard to accept. However, studies show that almost 90 percent of people who have COPD have gotten it through smoking and its very dangerous side effects. One of the major problems with COPD is that it causes patients to lose lung tissues, and this occurs at a must faster rate with smokers. To stop smoking is the absolute most important lifestyle change for those who have COPD, as that it may slow the overall rate of the loss of lung tissue.
Try to Be More Active
Of course, increased physical activity can assist with almost any medical ailment, however, it is extremely important when it comes to COPD. While having a breathing condition may sometimes make exercise difficult, try to engage in low-impact workouts that will help keep the body in motion. Research has actually shown that regular exercise can help to strengthen the respiratory muscles, which will actually make taking a breath much easier. It also builds up endurance and strength. Even a walk around the block can help, or you may want to consider playing a round of golf once a week or spending more time in the garden.
Change Your Diet
A special diet is not exactly necessary for people who have COPD, but maintaining a healthy weight is. Plus, it is recommended that patients who suffer from COPD limit their intake of salt, and it is also suggested that they eat smaller meals more often throughout the day. COPD may make it difficult to stay at a good average weight, because the difficulty that is caused in breathing can make a person burn more calories than normal. On the flip side, some patients become overweight, because they feel as if they are too tired to exercise as often as they should.
Take Your Medications
There are many different types of medications that your physician may prescribe for COPD, but filling those prescriptions is only half of the battle. Be sure to completely understand exactly what each medication is and how to administer it. Also be certain to understand if there are any restrictions associated with taking these medications. Try to take your medications at a certain time every day, making it easier not to forget them. Always stay on top of keeping your medicines refilled, especially if you are prescribed an inhaler. Don’t wait until it runs out and you need it to go have it filled.
Believe it or not, your emotions can play a big role in how your body copes with the effects of COPD. However, merely having COPD may bring about a broad range of emotions that you must constantly contend with, including depression, anxiety and anger over the conditions that cannot be controlled. If you find that you are having problems with dealing with these feelings, be sure to see a therapist, who may be able to prescribe medications to assist, even if but for a temporary time. Also, be sure to stay engaged in activities that you enjoy, as that this will promote positive emotions and feelings.
Protect Yourself from Illnesses
COPD is a very serious disease, and a person suffering from its effects should be sure to avoid placing themselves in situations that could trigger their symptoms or cause an illness. Cold air, especially when blowing in the face, can cause what is called a bronchospasm, which is a constriction that occurs along the airways, making it very difficult to breathe. Respiratory infections can be terrible for COPD sufferers, so wear a mask if you know that you may be in crowded areas where germs are easily spread. And of course, always be certain to sanitize your hands whenever possible.
Avoid Air Pollutants
Of course, to stop smoking was at the very top of this list, as that it is the absolute most important thing to change about your lifestyle, once you have been diagnosed with COPD. However, you must also take great care to avoid second-hand smoke, as that it can also be very detrimental to your health, as well as a trigger for COPD symptoms. Also try to avoid pollen and even household cleaners and pesticide sprays. Above all, try to stay away from dust, and never clean dusty or dirty areas in your house unless you are wearing a mask.
Use Breathing Techniques
Of course, anything that you can do to make breathing a little easier is well worth your time and effort, and research has shown that that many different breathing techniques might just help you to take that next breath with a bit more ease. In fact, the American Association for Respiratory Care has found that diaphragmatic and pursed lip breathing may help with shortness of breath, as well as increase the oxygen levels in the blood. Your doctor may be able to assist you with learning these methods, or you can always sign up for a local Yoga class!
If you are having trouble breathing, it is very important that you are able to receive medical treatment as quickly as possible. While you may have been prescribed an emergency inhaler, it may not always do the trick. Be sure to find out the best places to go in a hurry when you need emergency treatment, whether it be a hospital or an immediate care center. Also, be sure to keep your doctor’s number somewhere where you know where to find it, so that you can reach out if you have any questions or concerns. It’s also helpful to keep a list of your medications ready.
During your office appointments, always try to stay abreast of any information that can help you with managing COPD and its symptoms. Never be afraid to ask questions about new methods of treatment, as that exciting breakthroughs are always happening in the medical world, and perhaps the next one could be of particular help to you. There are also many home and natural remedies that can really make you feel better and assist with the quality of the life that you lead, but always ask your doctor before taking any type of natural supplements to ensure they will not interfere with other medicines you may be taking.