Living With COPD

Living With COPD

Although there is no cure for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), your symptoms can be managed, and damage to your lungs can be slowed. If you smoke, quitting is the most important thing you can do to help your lungs. You also need to try to stay away from people who are smoking or places where there is smoking.

It is important to keep the air in your home clean. Here are some things that may help you in your home:

  • Keep smoke, fumes, and strong smells out of your home.
  • If your home is painted or sprayed for insects, have it done when you can stay away from your home.
  • Cook near an open door or window.
  • If you heat with wood or kerosene, keep a door or window open.
  • Keep your windows closed and stay at home when there is a lot of pollution or dust outside.

If you are taking medicines, take them as ordered and make sure you refill them so you do not run out.

See your doctor at least two times a year, even if you are feeling fine. Make sure you bring a list of medicines you are taking to your doctor visit.

Ask your doctor or nurse about getting a flu shot and pneumonia vaccination.

Keep your body strong by learning breathing exercises and walking and exercising regularly.

Eat healthy foods. Ask your family to help you buy and fix healthy foods. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Eat protein food like meat, fish, eggs, milk, and soy.

If your doctor has told you that you have severe COPD, there are some things that you can do to get the most out of each breath. Make your life as easy as possible at home by:

  • Asking your friends and family for help.
  • Doing things slowly.
  • Doing things sitting down.
  • Putting things you need in one place that is easy to reach.
  • Finding very simple ways to cook, clean, and do other chores. Some people use a small table or cart with wheels to move things around. Using a pole or tongs with long handles can help you reach things.
  • Keeping your clothes loose.
  • Wearing clothes and shoes that are easy to put on and take off.
  • Asking for help moving your things around in your house so that you will not need to climb stairs as often.
  • Picking a place to sit that you can enjoy and visit with others.

If you are finding that it is becoming more difficult to catch your breath, your coughing has gotten worse, you are coughing up more mucus, or you have signs of infection (such as a fever and feeling poorly), you need to call your doctor right away. Your doctor may do a spirometry test, blood work, and a chest xray. Your doctor may also:

  • Order antibiotics, which are medicines that help fight off infection
  • Change the type and dosage of the bronchodilator and glucocorticosteroid medicines you have been taking
  • Order oxygen or increase the amount of oxygen you are currently using

It is helpful to have certain information on hand in case you need to go to the hospital or doctor right away. You should plan now to make sure you have:

  • The phone numbers for the doctor, hospital, and people who can take you to the hospital or doctor
  • Directions to the hospital and doctor’s office
  • A list of the medicines you are taking

When To Get Emergency Help

You should get emergency help if:

  • You find that is hard to talk or walk.
  • Your heart is beating very fast or irregularly.
  • Your lips or fingernails are gray or blue.
  • Your breathing is fast and hard, even when you are using your medicines.


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