Having mild to moderate COPD can be more bothersome than anything else. You might not need to use medications every day but you will most likely have to deal with a cough that comes and goes, or a persistent one that won't go away. You might try to exercise or just do normal chores around the house and have to take a break because you've become winded or fatigued. You will also have excess mucus that needs to be coughed up, and you will find yourself getting much sicker than people who come down with the same colds.
Moderate to severe COPD will require the use of drugs and oxygen therapy, depending on how low your blood oxygen level is. Most of the time, people with mild COPD don't need oxygen therapy because they are still able to bring in enough oxygen and expel carbon dioxide without throwing off the levels of gases in the blood. Using supplemental oxygen when you don't need it can be more harmful than helpful, so don't try to help yourself. You should only be using oxygen therapy with a doctor's prescription.
To help you manage your symptoms, talk to your doctor about what you can do. He or she will be able to get you started by giving you advice according to your individual case, as well as refer you to a respiratory therapist. Respiratory therapy or pulmonary rehabilitation will help teach you all you need to know about lung function and managing your COPD, as well as guide you through a gentle exercise program that focuses on strengthening your lungs.
You can also help manage your symptoms by doing what everyone else needs to do to stay healthy. Eating right and getting enough water will help give you the energy your body needs. Many people with COPD need more calories than other people, because their bodies are working harder to breathe and disperse oxygen and other nutrients to the cells. Talk to your doctor to see how many calories you should be getting a day. Besides trying to eat healthfully, you can try drinking meal supplement shakes to be sure you are getting enough calories and nutrients.
You also need to make sure you are drinking plenty of water. Water will help thin the mucus in your lungs so it's much easier to get rid of. If you have thick mucus that gets stuck in your throat and chokes you up when you cough, you most likely need to drink more water. Try to avoid drinking a lot of coffee and other caffeinated beverages, which can have the opposite effect. A little coffee, however, can actually open up your lungs and improve lung function because it is a stimulant.
Avoid getting sick as much as you can, which will worsen your COPD and even cause you to get a lung infection or pneumonia much quicker than if you didn't have COPD. Wash your hands frequently, especially during cold and flu season, and get the yearly flu shot at the beginning of October as as soon as you can.