Every year, around 12 million Americans are diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). And, 120,000 people die from the disease each year.
If you’re someone who suffers from COPD, then you know all too well how much this disease can affect your daily life. COPD affects everything from bathing to eating to doing housework to socializing.
Luckily, if you live with COPD or you have a loved one who lives with the disease, there’s a lot you can do to manage it.
Check out this guide to learn about the top tips for successful management of COPD.
1. Do Breathing Exercises
Performing breathing exercises on a regular basis is one of the best ways to manage COPD.
The biggest challenge of COPD is a lack of oxygen, which is often a result of smoking, air pollution, aging, or other factors. Breathing exercises are one of the best things to do to increase the flow of oxygen to your system.
Plus, breathing exercises can also help lessen the anxiety you may feel when you’re having trouble breathing. Here are two great best breathing exercises to try
Abdominal breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing, involves relaxing your shoulders and placing one hand on your heart and the other hand on your stomach.
Then, you’ll inhale through your nose, allowing your stomach to expand. You’ll then slowly breathe out through pursed lips as you press your belly.
Pursed Lip Breathing
With pursed-lip breathing, you’ll breathe in through your nose for a couple of seconds. Then, you’ll purse your lips and blow air through your mouth for about five seconds.
This exercise works to open your airways, slow down your breathing, and boost oxygen levels.
You may also want to consider investing in an oxygen concentrator to improve your breathing, such as the Inogen One G3.
2. Quit Smoking
If you’re a smoker living with COPD, then it’s time to kick the habit. While quitting smoking may seem impossible, people do it all the time. In fact, about 1.3 million Americans quit smoking each year.
If you’re trying to quit, the best thing to do is to seek help. There are several things you can do to help you quit, such as:
- Talking to a therapist
- Joining a support group
- Undergoing nicotine replacement therapy
- Taking medication
- Reading self-help materials
Exercising and eating right can also help you kick the habit, which leads us to our next point…
3. Eat Right and Exercise
Eating right and exercising is key to managing pretty much every illness out there, and COPD is no exception.
Before starting a new diet or exercise program, you should always consult with a doctor. With that being said, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind to improve your eating and fitness levels:
- Use portion-controlled plates to prevent yourself from overeating
- Focus on filling half of your plate with fruits and vegetables, one-fourth with whole grains, and one-fourth with a lean protein
- Aim to exercise for 30 minutes, 5 times per week
- Use a step counter to keep track of your daily steps, and aim to hit 10,000 each day
- Start a weight-lifting program
If you’re new to the world of diet and exercise, it can all be very intimidating at first. But, if you try to build healthier habits one day at a time, everything will start to fall into place.
4. Get a Good Night’s Rest
Many people with COPD also suffer from sleep problems. While this is partly due to breathing problems, it’s important to know that medications can also play a role in how well you sleep.
If you think your medication is disturbing your sleep, talk to your doctor about switching medications. You should also note the following tips to get a better night’s sleep:
- Avoid napping during the day so you’re tired at bedtime
- Get in enough exercise each week, as this will help you sleep more soundly
- Don’t do anything stimulating 2 hours before bedtime (exercising, working, playing video games, etc)
- Avoid caffeine after 5 pm
- Keep regular bedtimes and wake up times
- Keep your room cool, around 65 degrees
- Have a high protein snack before you go to bed
- Limit screen time before you go to bed. If necessary, keep your phone in another room and wind down before you go to sleep with a book or crossword puzzle
5. Take Your Medications Correctly
If you suffer from COPD, it’s very important that you take your medications correctly.
Here are some tips to keep in mind that will help you stay on top of your medication schedule:
- Stick to a daily routine for taking medication. Either take them right when you wake up in the morning or right before you go to bed
- Get a pillbox to help you keep track of what pills you need to take on different days of the week
- If you take pills multiple times each day, use a medicine checklist to help you keep track of when you need to take each pill
- Keep all of your medications in the same place
Also, if you’re experiencing any unpleasant side effects from your medications, be sure to talk to your doctor.
6. Get a Flu Shot
Last but not least, don’t forget to get a flu shot each year. While getting the flu can be awful for anyone, the respiratory problems that come with the flu are especially dangerous for those who suffer from COPD.
For some people with COPD, it’s also a good idea to get a pneumonia vaccine, so talk to your doctor about this.
Also, make sure to protect yourself during flu season by avoiding large crowds.
Management of COPD: Are You Ready to Breathe Easier?
By following these tips for successful management of COPD, you’ll be well on your way to feeling better.
If you liked this article, be sure to check back in with our blog for more health-related tips and tricks.