Hundreds of thousands of people living with COPD face certain challenges and frustrations, such as no longer being physically able to do things as easily as before. Living with COPD can also bring on emotional challenges. But knowing how to manage the disease and taking advantage of the support that is available can significantly improve and enhance your life.
Simple changes in your lifestyle and learning about factors that can cause problems can help you better manage COPD. Try these six strategies that offer significant benefits include:
- Quit smoking. Smoking is the most common cause of COPD, with 90% of suffers identifying as smokers, and women who smoke are 13 times more likely to pass away due to the disease than non-smoking women. No matter how long it takes, or which approach you use, the best first step is to quit smoking.
- Monitor air quality. Stay away from places where there will be dust, fumes and other pollutants in the air. You can keep track of air quality through reports on TV or online, and staying indoors on poor air quality days can be a big help. If you do venture out, use a mask that is rated to filter out particulates in a dusty environment.
- Protect your lungs. Get a flu and pneumonia shot every year, wash your hands frequently, avoid contact with people who have respiratory infections and other illnesses, stay away from crowds during cold and flu season, and encourage your loved ones to stay up to date on their vaccinations.
- Eat well. Food directly affects the way you breathe, so a well-balanced diet that helps you maintain a healthy body weight gives surprising results. The proper mix of nutrients will boost your metabolism, strengthen your immune system and help manage COPD symptoms. A Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) that specializes in COPD can develop a comprehensive nutritional strategy for your needs.
- Keep moving. Work with your doctor or therapist to develop an exercise plan that builds up and maintains your strength and activity level, which are both essential parts of managing COPD.
- Stay connected. People without a strong base of family and friends to draw from can experience stress, anxiety and depression. Lean on your emotional support to avoid feeling isolated or fearful as you navigate COPD. Try to enjoy life to the best of your abilities, and find joy in shared activities with loved ones.
People are living longer, more satisfying lives after their diagnosis through advances in pulmonary therapy and rehabilitation and new ways to manage the disease. If you or a loved one are living with COPD and you’re looking for healthcare options, call us at 801.298.1100 to discuss services available in your area.