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Living Well With COPD

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

While there is no cure for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), beginning long-term treatment early can improve symptoms, increase your ability to exercise and enable you to breathe better with a better quality of life. Here are nine tips to help you live well with COPD:

  1. Accept your condition and resolve to learn everything you can about it so you can manage it rather than letting it manage you!
  2. Do whatever is necessary to quit smoking. Enlist the help of your health care professional and be patient with yourself; it may take several tries but you will get there.
  3. Participate in a pulmonary rehabilitation program, which teaches you exercises to strengthen the muscles of the diaphragm to help you breathe, as well as regular exercise such as walking. Studies find that pulmonary rehabilitation programs can improve your ability to exercise, reduce shortness of breath, improve your quality of life and reduce the amount of medical services you use. Your health care professional can refer you to a program.
  4. Go for a short walk every day, preferably outside if weather permits, otherwise in an enclosed area, like a mall or even a grocery store.
  5. Avoid lung irritants like fumes and smoke.
  6. Address any mold issues in your house and stay away from damp, moldy environments.
  7. Cover your mouth and nose when you go out in cold weather; the cold air can irritate your lungs.
  8. Stay away from anyone who is sick, even your grandchildren. Any infection can lead to a COPD exacerbation.
  9. Talk to your health care professional about if and when you need a pneumonia vaccine.
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