Living with COPD can be challenging and frightening. If you have been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, it is understandable to have concerns. Many people learn how to cope with COPD with a few healthy lifestyle changes.
First, if you are living with COPD, you must arm yourself with the best information possible. Also, make sure that you keep communication flowing between you and your healthcare professional to manage symptoms and possibly slow the progression of the disease. Being educated about your illness, talking to your doctor about treatment plans, and getting support will make living with COPD a bit easier.
You can make a difference in your quality of life with the right mindset and strategies. Here are seven tips to help you manage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease effectively:
First of all, and at the top of this list (and we can't stress this enough), if you smoke, the most important thing you can do is to quit! The leading cause of COPD is smoking. Don't think that just because you are diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, it's too late to quit. It's quite the contrary. You wouldn't believe how quickly the body begins to heal. According to The Cleveland Clinic, 20 minutes after you stop smoking, your blood pressure drops; after eight hours, the carbon monoxide decreases as oxygen levels rise in your blood; and after 24 hours, your risk of a heart attack decreases...and that's just the first day without cigarettes! Because COPD is progressive, you can slow it down by quitting smoking.
Work closely with your healthcare provider to develop a medication plan that suits your needs. Medications may include bronchodilators, inhaled corticosteroids, or oxygen therapy. Always follow your doctor’s advice and medication treatment plan carefully, and use inhalers or nebulizers as directed. Keep an open dialog with your healthcare team and alert them to any new developments. If symptoms become more severe or you develop new ones, make sure you tell your doctor right away. Getting symptoms under control will not only improve your quality of life but it can also delay the progression of the disease.
Eating right and getting proper nutrients is important for everyone and becomes even more important if you have been diagnosed with COPD. Giving your body the support it needs will keep your respiratory system as strong as possible. Foods rich in antioxidants and vitamins will help strengthen your body and immune system. COPD is demanding on your lungs and your entire well-being, so having proper nutrition will go a long way in the fight against COPD.
There are programs that offer what is known as pulmonary rehabilitation to help strengthen your lungs. These treatment options can help you understand the effects of COPD and also help you manage the disease with exercise and psychological support. Focusing on boosting your pulmonary function and will help you to strengthen your lungs and overall health.
By exercising regularly, you not only improve your overall fitness and stamina, but you can also improve lung function. Walking, bike riding, or swimming will strengthen your pulmonary system and help you stay fit and healthy. Of course, before beginning any exercise, talk to your healthcare provider to get their stamp of approval on the right activities for your level of health.
When you have COPD, breathing can become strenuous. Be mindful of air quality and avoid exposure to irritants and pollutants. Pay attention to any outdoor air quality alerts and consider investing in an air purifier for your home. Allergens and poor air quality can wreak havoc on COPD symptoms.
When you are living with COPD it is important to know that you are not alone. Talk to your friends and family about your feelings and symptoms. You can also reach out to support groups for others who have also been diagnosed with COPD. Living with COPD isn’t easy, and it can be especially emotionally challenging. Talk to your family and friends. Reach out to local support groups or a therapist to handle any feelings of anxiety or sadness. Having a healthy mindset is important when dealing with COPD.
Since COPD is progressive, your treatment may need to be periodically adjusted. Make sure to communicate with your healthcare provider. Only you know how you feel, and having open communication with your doctor will help you to stay on a plan to manage COPD effectively.
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Linda Guerrera is the Digital Content Manager for Health Products For You. As an award-winning media professional, she has spent her entire career as on on-air radio personality, program director, voice-over artist ...
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