Can Lung Function Be Improved After COPD Diagnosis?

Just because you've been diagnosed with COPD, doesn't mean you should go ahead and give up on your lungs. Your lungs have been damaged over time, and most likely, you won't be able to get them back to that of a person who has never smoked. Depending on the severity of your condition, however, you might be able to improve your lung function enough so that you won't need to use oxygen therapy as often, or your doctor might find it safe to lower the dosage on your medication.

Start Small and Pace Yourself

Improving your lung function involves making changes in your lifestyle. Do not do anything without the go-ahead from your doctor and pay attention to how you feel. If something causes you to feel out of breath, slow down or stop. To get you started, the medications and oxygen therapy prescribed by your doctor will improve your lung function so that the rest of your body can function properly.

Make sure you are taking these things exactly to your doctor's directions. Most of the problems involving oxygen therapy occur when the patient decides to change the prescribed air flow on his oxygen equipment. Take your medicines around the same time each day and involve them in your daily routine so you won't miss any doses.

The first thing you need to do, if you haven't done it already, is quit smoking. Some of the damage done to your lungs by tobacco smoke will decrease over time, and your lung function will begin to improve. The condition of your lungs will progressively worsen the longer you smoke.

Keeping to your oxygen therapy regimen will give you the boost you will need to accomplish the other things you will need to do to improve your lung function. After starting oxygen therapy, you will notice that you have more energy and you can think much clearer – this is because the cells in your body are receiving the amount of oxygen they need.

Proper Nutrition

Higher mortality rates occur in people with COPD, who don't eat was well as they should be. If your appetite isn't what it used to be, and you are now underweight – which is common for people with COPD – you should be eating more foods that are high in good fats and protein. Foods high in the fats and proteins you need are fish, nuts and lean meats. Some foods that are known to help improve lung function are mushrooms, soy, tomatoes and pistachios.

Lung Exercises

A breathing exercise called “pursed lip breathing” is used to help improve lung function. You would simply draw a slow, deep breath through your nose for two seconds, and then exhale through your mouth, lips pursed, for four seconds. You can do this for as long as you feel comfortable, and as often as you'd like.

With your doctor's advice, you can try doing slow and simple yoga. The yoga poses will gently strengthen your muscles, and the deep breathing will give your lungs a little workout. Don't do anything you don't feel comfortable doing, and try starting out with just 15 to 20 minutes of yoga a day.

Information on this page is for reference and educational purposes only. For more information about COPD, talk to your doctor or primary care provider.

About Scott Ridl: Scott joined American Medical Sales and Rentals in 2008 as a Web Manager and Content Writer. He is a writer and designer. He is extensively trained on oxygen therapy products from leading manufacturers such as Inogen, Respironics, Chart, Invacare, ResMed and more. Scott works closely with respiratory therapists and oxygen specialists to educate the community about oxygen therapy products, COPD, asthma and lung diseases. He writes weekly columns and is passionate about educating the community on oxygen therapy and respiratory issues.

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