COPD Living With
COPD has no cure yet. However, lifestyle changes and treatments can help you feel better, stay more active, and slow the progress of the disease.
Call your doctor if you notice that your symptoms are worsening or if you have signs of an infection, such as a fever. Your doctor may change or adjust your treatments to relieve and treat symptoms.
How to manage COPD at home
- Join a COPD self-management program. Ask your doctor for a program that will help you to educate yourself about COPD and interventions that can help manage the disease and have a better quality of life.
- Talk to your doctor about following an eating plan that will meet your nutritional needs. If you have trouble eating enough because of symptoms such as shortness of breath and fatigue, you may not get all the calories and nutrients you need. This can make your symptoms worse and raise your risk for infections. Your doctor may suggest eating smaller meals more often throughout the day, resting before eating, and taking vitamins or nutritional supplements.
- Ask your doctor what types of activities you can safely do. You may find it hard to remain active with your symptoms. However, physical activity can strengthen the muscles that help you breathe and improve your overall wellness.
- Put items you use often in one easy-to-reach place. Find simple ways to cook, clean, and do other chores. For example, you might want to use a small table or cart with wheels to move things around and a pole or tongs with long handles to reach things.
- Ask for help in making things more accessible in your house so that you will not need to climb stairs as often.
- Keep your clothes loose-fitting, and wear clothes and shoes that are easy to put on and take off.
- Use your medicines as recommended. Make sure you are using the inhaler correctly. It is normal for patients to have problems with the inhaler, so do not worry about asking your healthcare team multiple times how to use it.
Avoid triggers that can cause flare-ups
Over time, you may notice a sudden worsening of symptoms, called flare-ups, that may happen if you come in contact with certain scents or breathe in dust or fumes. Learning what these triggers are can help you avoid them and prevent flare-ups.
- Stay away from lung irritants, including chemical fumes, dust, smoke from home cooking and heating fuels, and secondhand smoke (fumes in the air from other people smoking).
- Check the air quality where you live and keep your windows closed and stay at home when there is a lot of air pollution or dust outside.
- Get regular flu and pneumonia shots when available to help prevent infections, which can trigger flare-ups.
- Get a COVID-19 vaccine. This is especially important for people with lung disease.
Seek emergency care if you have a severe flare-up.
Keep phone numbers handy for your doctor, your hospital, and someone who can take you for medical care. You also should have on hand directions to the doctor’s office and hospital and a list of all the medicines you are taking.
Does COPD raise my risk for other conditions?
COPD may raise your risk for other health conditions that can happen because of COPD or as a result of the damage to the airways. These conditions include:
- Frequent colds or other respiratory infections such as the flu, or influenza, happen often if you have COPD.
- Heart disease risks are higher for people who have COPD than people who do not have COPD.
- If you have COPD, you may also have other health problems, such as obesity or peripheral artery disease, that are caused by similar risk factors (smoking or not getting enough physical activity). These other health problems may, in turn, make COPD worse.
Talk to your doctor about your risk for other health problems and any healthy lifestyle changes you can make.
Take care of your mental health
Living with COPD may cause fear, anxiety, depression, and stress. Talking to your doctor or a professional counselor may help. If you are depressed, your doctor may recommend medicines or other treatments that can improve your quality of life.
Joining a patient support group may help you adjust to living with COPD. You can see how other people with similar symptoms have coped. Talk with your doctor about local support groups or check with an area medical center.
Support from family and friends also can help relieve stress and anxiety. Let your loved ones know how you feel and what they can do to help you.