Coping with COPD

Coping with COPD

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease makes it increasingly difficult for a person to breathe. It is not currently possible to cure or reverse the condition completely, but a person can reduce its impact by making some treatment and lifestyle changes.

The number of deaths attributed to COPD has increased more than 60% over the past 2 decades, and more than 95% of all COPD-related deaths occur in individuals older than age 55. COPD affects men more often than women, but it was also reported that both men and women die from COPD at about equal rates.
By developing effective ways to manage stress and learning to relax, one can help prevent shortness of breath and avoid panic

Try these tips for managing COPD:

Give up Smoking: Giving up nicotine is one of the most important things that one can do, to decrease the severity of COPD. Talk with your healthcare provider to determine which one may be most helpful to you:

  • Medications
  • Nicotine replacement therapy
  • Self-help materials
  • Counseling
  • Group programs

Reduce Stress:

Stress and anxiety can make you feel short of breath and cause your COPD symptoms to become worse. Shortness of breath can lead to even more anxiety, faster breathing, and fear.
One cannot avoid stress; it is part of daily life. However, developing effective ways to manage stress and learning to relax can help you prevent shortness of breath and avoid panic.

Eat Right and Exercise:

Eating a healthy diet and exercising are important to keeping and improving your fitness level.

  • Eat small, more frequent well-balanced meals.
  • Keep a bottle of water with you and drink before you eat.
  • Keep moving to keep your muscle strength.
  • Use a step counter to track how much you walk every day, then try to “beat” your number by one step the next day.
  • Practice healthy breathing exercises.

Maintain Regular Sleep Pattern: Having COPD may interfere with getting enough rest. Nighttime coughing or shortness of breath can make staying asleep difficult. Practicing good sleeping habits can help a person with COPD get a restful night’s sleep.

Pacing Activities: Pacing activities can conserve energy, decrease fatigue, and allow someone with COPD to do more. A person should pace their activities according to their energy needs.
One way to do this is by breaking tasks down into smaller steps and resting in between each step.