Having COPD often means you can run into some difficulties in everyday life, just doing normal things like eating or sleeping. It can be hard to anything when you can't catch your breath, or when the simplest things get you winded.
There are some ways around these issues, however, and you can use them to adapt and cope.
When you get short of breath during a meal...
This can happen because your stomach is pushing up against your lungs, which are likely enlarged slightly from being damaged. Even if they aren't enlarged but you're out of breath, eating can make you feel even more out of breath because as you eat, your stomach is pressing against your diaphragm.
If eating makes you feel out of breath or if you feel full too quickly, eat smaller portions and smaller meals throughout the day. You can also end up losing weight and becoming underweight, so eating small high protein meals and meals high in nutrients throughout the day is best.
Eat slowing and chew your food thoroughly. This will give your food a chance to digest and digest quicker, making you feel less full.
When you are getting winded trying to make it to the bathroom...
Have plenty of chairs to sit on throughout your home, so you can sit down and catch your breath. You should also have a room in the house that is close to the bathroom, where you spend a lot of time, like your bedroom or a bathroom right off of the den where you sit to read or watch TV.
You should never avoid drinking liquids so you don't have to go to the bathroom as often. Being dehydrated, or not hydrated enough is dangerous for your overall health, and can actually irritate your bladder and cause you to have to urinate more often. You also need to stay well hydrated, because this will thin down your mucus and make it much easier to cough up. Not to mention, when you're well hydrated, your body just functions better overall.
When you're short of breath in general...
When you're feeling short of breath from overexerting yourself, take any medications your doctor has advised you to take. If it's severe, you should contact medical professionals right away. If you've used your medication and you're still trying to relax, try breathing through pursed lips, and concentrate on the rhythm of your breathing.
Another thing you can do to relax is to drink a warm liquid. If you can't have caffeine, you can drink decaf coffee or tea. If you can drink caffeine, doing so will also help because it will help stimulate your airways to open up. It works in much the same way as many bronchodilators, which are medications given to patients with lung problems.
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 5, 2018
- COPD Foundation. Coping with COPD. Published: August 12, 2015. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0079011/