Once you’ve been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), it’s something you’ll be living with for the rest of your life. Because COPD is a progressive disease (that is, it generally gets worse over time) it may be some time before you have to make big changes to your lifestyle.
But guess what? Living better, and breathing better, with COPD IS possible.
Here are three important basic lifestyle tips that can help when living with COPD.
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Follow your doctor´s orders…
• Take your medicine, as prescribed by your doctor.
• Learn how to use your inhalers correctly. Take your inhalers to your next doctor´s appointment so he or she can check that you´re using them correctly. If in doubt, download step-by-step instructions.
• If your doctor recommends lifestyle changes (such as losing weight, exercising, or quitting smoking), make a lifestyle action plan with key dates and specific, achievable goals. You are more likely to succeed if you “cut out 300 calories a day” than if you try to “lose 25 pounds.”
• Let your doctor know you´re interested in managing your COPD and you want their help (such as with exercise plans or a prescription for stop-smoking aids) to make healthy changes.
• Try to avoid respiratory infections — get a flu shot every year and ask your doctor about a vaccine against pneumonia. Also, try to avoid people who are sick.
• Educate yourself. The more you know about your condition, the more you can keep it from taking over your life. Ask your doctor for reliable sources of information. This may include pamphlets, or even good Web sites. This list of reputable sites can get you started.
• Set priorities. You may not be able to do everything you used to do, but you can save your energy for the things that matter most. Arrange your schedule so you accomplish the most important things first.
• Plan to rest before and after a special occasion.
• Don´t try to do two high-energy activities back-to-back.
• Are you a morning person or a night owl? Plan activities for the times when you naturally have the most energy.
• Don´t lie down after eating. Your full stomach can put pressure on your lungs and make it more difficult to breathe.
• Get a good night´s sleep and plan at least one rest period each day.
• Try to avoid working long days. If you become tired, stop and rest.
• Save your energy — sit down to brush your teeth or put on makeup.
• Wear clothes that are easy to put on.
• Use tools such as a shoehorn or a shower chair.
• Relax often to prevent stress that can cause you to become short of breath.