Living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Posted on- Aug 26, 2015
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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive lung disease that makes it difficult to breathe. “Progressive” means that the disease gets worse over time.
In COPD diseases, breathing is obstructed, usually due to inflammation or clogging of the airways. Since you cannot eradicate chronic obstructive pulmonary disease from your body, and usually cannot reverse the damage done to your respiratory system, the best thing to do is slow your sickness down. Do not try to just bear the effects as they come. Emphysema, for instance, might not be so bad at the start, but in its later stages, can cripple or even kill a person.
There are many ways to proactively manage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease symptoms, slow the progression of the disease, and enhance your quality of life. Here are important tips that can make a real difference when it comes to living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease:
Get your shots: Flares of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are often caused by colds and the flu. Protect yourself by getting your yearly flu vaccine. Keep in mind that it’s better to get a standard shot than a nasal spray vaccine. That’s because the nasal spray vaccine is a live vaccine and may do more harm than good when you have this condition. In addition to the yearly flu vaccine, it’s important to get the pneumonia vaccine at least once, with a booster shot as recommended by your pulmonologist.
Avoid germs: Do your best to stay away from people who are sick. Use caution when attending parties and other gatherings of crowds during cold and flu season. You may want to skip parties where people aren’t feeling well, or cut your time at a party short if you find that someone attending is sick. Remember, hand washing is important.
Kick the smoking habit: Smoking is the most significant risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Don’t be fooled into thinking that e-cigarettes are any better for you if you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. E-cigarettes may not have tar or smoke, but they have other ingredients, such as flavourings, that you are inhaling, and we don’t know the effects of these, so they may not be safe. If you want to quit, use smoking cessation aids such as nicotine gum and patches.
Keep your air clean: Air quality can also trigger breathlessness and other chronic obstructive pulmonary disease symptoms. If you live near a factory and the air quality is bad, make sure your indoor air is as clean as it can be by using a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. These filters can remove as much as 99 % of indoor air pollutants. Other tips for improving indoor air include getting rid of wall-to-wall carpets and cleaning with green products or with natural cleaners like soap and water, baking soda, and vinegar.
Eat smaller meals: Many people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease feel breathless after a large meal. Eat smaller meals throughout the day to avoid "being-full" feeling. Smaller meals can also help if you struggle with a lack of appetite.
Reduce stress: Stress definitely makes any underlying condition worse. Regular exercise and a minimum of seven hours of sleep per night are the best stress reducers. Exercise may be the last thing you feel like doing when you have COPD, but it improves COPD symptoms and will ultimately give you more energy, so talk to your pulmonologist about how to develop an exercise regimen that will work for you.
Keep rescue medications on hand: Don't be afraid to use your prescribed short-acting beta agonists as rescue medications if you have trouble breathing or getting sputum (saliva and mucus) up.
Keep in touch with your pulmonologist: Check in with your pulmonologist when you're in distress or have a symptom that is new or unexplained. This open communication can take care of COPD symptoms.
Be prepared: You may want to talk to your pulmonologist about the best treatment to have on hand at home in case of a flare. This might include a home nebulizer and oxygen. Finally, discuss with your pulmonologist what symptoms should prompt you to use these treatments, as well as when it may be necessary to call a pulmonologist and head to a hospital instead.
Managing COPD symptoms can be stressful at times, but these tips can help make living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease easier. Avoiding triggers and staying as healthy as possible will go a long way in treating this progressive lung condition.