Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a disease that makes breathing difficult for sufferers. There are multiple reasons why a person could find it difficult to breathe, ranging from decreased elasticity of the airways to increased inflammation of the airways.
Living with COPD can be challenging, but there are things you can do to help slow the progressive nature of the disease. In many cases, the best thing you can do is to simply be smart about how you take care of yourself.
Use this guide to learn a few ways you can improve your quality of life when living with COPD.
- Avoid or quit smoking.
Although not everyone who suffers with COPD is or was a smoker, cigarette smoking is the leading cause of the disease. Typical onset of COPD generally occurs around age 40, but heavy smokers or people who are exposed to chemical fumes or pollutants in the workplace may show symptoms earlier.
Giving up tobacco can be extremely challenging, but continuing to smoke contributes to more severe symptoms related to COPD. Smoking cessation aids, including some prescription drugs, may be helpful. Talk to your doctor about suggestions.
- Make regular exercise a priority .
As COPD affects the amount of lung capacity related to breathing, individuals living with COPD may find the idea of regular exercise hard to fathom. However, while COPD does make it difficult to breathe, simply taking intentional steps towards being active is still beneficial.
Although you should talk to your doctor about your particular physical fitness level, walking for 15 minutes per day or tossing a ball with your child or dog are typically beneficial exercises that serve to strengthen your respiratory muscles and improve endurance over time. Exercising regularly also means you’ll be able to accomplish your day to day chores and tasks without getting winded as quickly.
- Strive to gain or maintain a healthy weight.
Everyone knows that eating right is important. However, it is particularly important for people living with progressive diseases like COPD. Being overweight makes it more difficult to breathe, but in conjunction with COPD, carrying excess weight simply puts more strain on your body than it should have to endure.
On the other hand, individuals who are underweight and are not meeting their nutritional needs will find it even more difficult to have the strength to accomplish daily tasks or to participate in necessary exercise. COPD-related weight loss is not uncommon, so if you are having difficulty meeting your nutritional goals, your doctor may be able to recommend proper supplements for you.
- Focus on developing better breathing techniques.
Many COPD sufferers experience a lower quality of life due to their struggle with breathing. Like exercise, practicing breathing the right way can help slow the effects of the disease.
Talk to your doctor or respiratory therapist to request breathing exercises that you can do throughout the day. Simple breathing techniques and positions for relaxing your airway can help reduce shortness of breath and even strengthen your respiratory muscles.
Living with COPD is not easy, but there are things that you can to do make it a little more manageable and to help you enjoy each day just a little more.