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Receiving a serious medical diagnosis can be a scary time for anyone. It’s important not to get hung up on all the unknowns.  Educate yourself and start focusing on how to move forward.  Seek out professional help and find support through friends and family. A positive mindset can have a huge impact on your overall health.

Maximizing Life With COPD

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a challenge, but a diagnosis doesn’t mean the end of normal life. With a good diet, proper medical care, and some preventative measures, you can thrive. Life with COPD can be difficult, but you can take steps to help you manage your symptoms, and prevent the disease from worsening. Utilizing various tools and therapies can improve your outlook.

Keep up with regular doctor visits.

Forming a good doctor-patient relationship will ensure that you get the most out of your doctor visits. Make sure your doctor has a record of your vaccinations. Staying up to date on your vaccines is crucial since COPD increases your risk of complications from certain illnesses, such as the flu.  Never worry you’re bothering your doctor with too many questions. There should always be open communication between you.  In addition to regular checkups, if new symptoms arise, make sure you let your doctor know.

Don’t smoke.

Quitting smoking is the best thing you can do to keep your COPD symptoms from getting worse. Smoking will only cause more damage to your lungs and amplify breathing problems. Quitting will help you stay more active and enjoy life. Remember that you don’t have to be a smoker for smoking to cause harm. Exposure to secondhand smoke is a big COPD trigger and can cause serious flare-ups.

Avoid sickness.

COPD makes it difficult to clear bacteria, dust, and pollutants from your lungs. This puts you at a much greater risk of respiratory infections.  Avoiding sickness with COPD is much like avoiding sickness during a flu outbreak.  Wash your hands frequently, avoid people who are sick and make sure you keep your home and oxygen equipment clean.Watch for signs of infection and be proactive about treatment.

Keep in shape.

Exercising with COPD can be difficult.  Don’t focus on what you can’t do, but on what you can.  Once you get approval from your doctor, low impact exercise is a great way to increase stamina. In addition to physical activity, breathing exercises are greatly beneficial to your health.  Because your lungs have been damaged, it’s harder for them to move oxygen to your blood. One way to counter this is to practice various breathing techniques. Not only do they increase the oxygen in your system, but can greatly reduce stress.

Minimize stress.

The first step towards managing stress is to identify and minimize your stressors. Living with COPD can cause a lot of anxiety because it creates a lot of uncertainty.  Make time each day for activities that encourage relaxation, such as meditation or yoga. Also, make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep and drinking lots of water.  If you find the stress of COPD care is too much to handle alone, assisted living facilities are a great option. 

Eat a healthy diet.

A healthy diet is an important part of a COPD treatment plan. Eating the right foods can help manage your symptoms and increase your energy level.  It takes extra energy to breathe when you have COPD, so eat accordingly.  Eating frequent, small meals will help maintain energy levels.  Limit salt intake and be sure you’re getting plenty of protein.

Keep rescue meds nearby.

Keeping rescue medication nearby is key to avoid frequent trips to the hospital. These medicines work fast to help you breathe easier. You take them when you are coughing heavily or having trouble breathing during a flare-up. These rescue meds (bronchodilators), will help relax and open your airways for easier breathing. Your doctor can make a plan for rescue drugs that will work for you.

Give Yourself the Best Life

For most people, breathing is something not given much thought.  For people with COPD, it’s often the only thing you can think about. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by a COPD diagnosis, but it’s important to take it on one step at a time. With a good support network of doctors, specialists, friends and family, you can still live your best life!
Contact Us to learn more about thriving with COPD or for a tour of one of our cottages.

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