8 Essential Tips to Cope Better with COPD

COPD, bronchites

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a blanket term referring to a group of diseases that affect and limit the airflow to the lungs. COPD affects millions of people every year. Some of the most common diseases under COPD are chronic bronchitis and emphysema. For some people, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease only impacts their life minimally. While for others, the disease and the associated symptoms affect their quality of life significantly. Some things can make it easier for people with COPD to maintain a regular life. Here are some tips for coping better with COPD:

Get adequate rest

Getting enough rest and sleep is necessary for overall health and well-being. Your energy levels are more likely to be higher when you have had a good night’s rest. It is therefore vital to ensure that you get the recommended hours of sleep every night. Avoid napping too much during the day to make sure that you are tired by bedtime. You could also try to exercise for a few minutes during the day to get better sleep.

Avoid doing stimulating activities like watching intense movies a few hours before your bedtime. Avoid huge meals and lots of carbs before bed. Ensure that your bedroom is conducive to sleep. Keep it dark, quiet, and at a favorable temperature. Keeping regular sleep time and wake-up times gets your body on a schedule, and it becomes easier to fall asleep and get enough rest at night. If you have other sleep problems, seek advice from your healthcare provider.

Stay active

Exercising is vital for everybody. If you suffer from COPD, staying active will help you improve your quality of life. It improves your fitness and breathing. Some people tend to stay away from exercises that make them breathless. However, avoiding those exercises only makes you less fit and more likely to run out of breath.

Staying active will help you strengthen your muscles while benefiting your heart and blood pressure. It helps avoid other complicated conditions like osteoporosis and diabetes. You do not have to kill yourself in the gym. Find an enjoyable way to stay active. You could take walks and get a step counter to track how much you walk each day. Try to beat your steps every day.

Moving will increase your muscle strength. If you are unsure what level of exercise is right for you, ask your doctor to recommend pulmonary rehabilitation.

Learn to use nebulizers properly

Nebulizers are small equipment that helps you take the different drugs that you need to manage COPD. The drugs could be anything from bronchodilators, antibiotics, corticosteroids, mucolytic agents, or anticholinergics. They use motors to convert the liquid medicine to a mist making it easier to inhale them using a mask or mouthpiece.

Since nebulizers turn your COPD medicine into a fine mist, they make it easier to breathe the medicine to the airways and lungs when you have a flare-up. If a doctor recommends you get a nebulizer, ensure you learn how to use it properly. Make sure you keep it clean to avoid infections.

Learn breathing techniques

Breathing techniques help you cope when you are out of breath. They allow you to be more in control of your breathing. Learning breathing techniques will help you when feeling short of breath. Try out different methods and positions to identify which works best for you. Some people with COPD find that singing helped them manage their symptoms better because they learned to control their breathing. You could try diaphragmatic breathing, where you breathe in deeply using your nose while pushing your stomach out. This technique uses the diaphragm and other lower respiratory muscles.

Pursed lip breathing also uses the same diaphragmatic breathing technique. You breathe out while pursing your lips slightly. Try to avoid forcing the air out. These breathing techniques help you get more air in and out of your lungs. That reduces shortness of breath. You can consult with a respiratory physiotherapist to help identify a breathing technique that works best for you.

Eat balanced meals and maintain a healthy weight

It is necessary to eat healthy meals and maintain a healthy weight, especially if you have COPD. If you are overweight, it will be harder to breathe and move around. Your heart and lungs have to work harder to supply oxygen to your body.

If you avoid eating because it makes you feel breathless, you could end up failing to provide enough nutrients to your body. Without the necessary nutrients, you will not have enough energy to do your daily tasks. Try to eat a balanced diet. Your doctor can recommend a healthy weight for you and supplements or refer you to a dietician to help you. Regular exercise also helps ensure that you stay at a healthy weight while boosting efficient oxygen circulation in the body.

Give up smoking

Smoking is a significant risk factor for people with COPD. Quitting smoking is the single most crucial thing you can do for your health, especially if you suffer from COPD.  Some people opt for e-cigarettes because they think that the lack of tar and smoke makes them better. That is not the case. E-cigarettes also have other cigarette ingredients that are not safe.

You could try medication, nicotine replacement therapy, self-help materials, or counseling. You could also consider using an FDA-approved cessation aid like nicotine gums and patches to help you give up the habit. Find a technique that is most helpful to you.

Avoid infections

When you have COPD, you have an increased risk of getting lung infections. Try to do anything in your capacity to keep diseases at bay. Get vaccines like the yearly influenza vaccine and pneumonia vaccine to reduce the chance of infection. Maintain a clean environment. Wash your hands regularly to inhibit the spread of germs and diseases.

Take care of your mental well-being

Living with a long-term condition can sometimes take a toll on someone’s mental and emotional well-being. The physical symptoms of COPD like tiredness, coughing, and shortness of breath can make you anxious or stressed. The risk of anxiety tends to be higher for people who suffer from severe COPD. Do not take things to heart. It may be easy to frown at your tragic existence and go down a depressive path. To avoid that, talk to the people you trust and your doctor. That will help you feel less alone.

Staying active and sociable also helps to boost your mood. You will cope better with the condition if you have a positive mindset and a community there for you. Join a group with others with similar experiences to help you know that you are not alone.

Bottom line

Learning more about COPD helps you live a much healthier and happier life. Consider reading about it and air all your concerns with your healthcare provider. Knowing what to do to prevent problems will help you feel more in charge of your life. The coping tips we have discussed will also help you improve the quality of your life.

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