Living with COPD - Things to Consider

It’s likely you or someone you know has been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. More than 15.7 million people in the United States [1] have been diagnosed with COPD and an estimated 24 million people may have the disease without even knowing it.

COPD is a lung disease that makes breathing difficult and is most often caused by damage to the lungs that has occurred over a long period of time. Luckily, there are treatments your doctor can prescribe and simple steps you can follow to help you manage your symptoms, feel better, and continue living your life!

How to Live Well with COPD

Improve the Air You Breathe

If you’re in an environment that suffers from heavy pollution or smoke it’s best to avoid it. Pollutants in the air enter our lungs through our mouth and nose as we breathe; think of your lungs as the engine for your car. You want to provide your engine with the clean fuel it needs to work as efficiently and effectively as possible; same goes for our lungs! Clean, pollutant free air, helps lungs to function with ease and not over work. Consider using an air filter at home for added support!

Consider Oxygen

If you are uncomfortable, breathless, and/or your blood oxygen levels are low, your healthcare provider may prescribe oxygen as a treatment. Using an oxygen concentrator helps patients feel more comfortable, increases their energy, helps maintain healthy lung function, and can even increase lifespan! Studies have shown patients using at least 15 hours per day of oxygen therapy show a significant reduction in heart failure risk!

Quit Smoking

It’s never too late to quit smoking, especially when you suffer from COPD. Smoking causes irreparable damage to your lungs and can develop into other serious and life threatening diseases such as lung cancer. Quitting smoking will help slow down the progression of the disease, ease symptoms, and improve your overall quality of life. Having trouble quitting? Today, there are several treatments available to help people stop smoking, such as Nicotine replacement therapy, various medications, and support groups.

Read more on how your body gets better once you quit smoking.

Avoid Triggers

COPD flare-ups occur when your symptoms such as shortness of breath, cough, and mucus production, quickly become worse. Luckily, you can easily do things at home or on the go to manage these flare-ups and make them less frequent! Leaning what triggers COPD, you can help reduce personal flare-ups and improve your quality of life!

    What to Avoid

  • Air Pollution, Smog
  • Second-Hand Smoke
  • Cold Air
  • Humid Air
  • High Altitudes

Change Your Diet

A healthy diet is important to keep up your strength and energy. Researchers have found those sticking to a diet low in red meat and rich in whole grains, are one-third less likely to develop COPD. Muscle weakness and weight loss are common in people with COPD therefore, *a diet rich in vegetables, complex carbohydrates, and polyunsaturated fats can help make symptoms more manageable and give you the cleanest energy for your day! *Of course, we always suggest consulting your physician before making any changes to your lifestyle or diet.

    What to Avoid

  • Red Meat
  • Refined Grains
  • Sugary Drinks
  • Alcohol
  • Dairy
  • Carbonated Beverages
  • Acidic Foods
    What to Look For

  • Whole Grains
  • Vegetables
  • Fish
  • Nuts
  • Hydration
  • Polyunsaturated Fats
  • Complex Carbohydrates

Read more about how your diet affects COPD.

Start Exercising

Staying as active as possible with regular exercise helps build muscle strength and improves the cardiovascular system. Low impact exercises such as walking, bicycling, and swimming are great options because they provide you with all the cardiovascular benefits you need to keep your lungs healthy but allow you to exercise at your own speed and pace! Always be sure to consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine, they may have tips based on your condition, exercise suggestions, or may want to change the dose setting on your oxygen therapy device during exercise.

Read more about staying active with COPD.

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

Page last updated: October 2, 2018

[1]Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Last updated: June 6, 2018.

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.

2 thoughts on “Living with COPD - Things to Consider”

  • Millie Johnson
    Millie Johnson June 21, 2018 at 7:11 am

    thanks it was very helpful
    but do you of any herbal tea to drink that would help.

    • Margaret Goodman
      Margaret Goodman June 25, 2018 at 7:59 am

      Glad you found this helpful. I have not heard of any herbal teas but that doesn't mean they are not out there. I would recommend speaking with your doctor.


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