COPD

Lifestyle Changes to Help Manage COPD

  • Your Top Priority: Stop Smoking

    Smoking is the number one cause of chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Together these diseases comprise COPD. If you haven’t already quit, it’s very important to take steps to stop smoking. Talk to your doctor about smoking cessation strategies.

    If nicotine withdrawal is a concern, your doctor may be able to prescribe nicotine replacement therapy to help you gradually wean yourself off this addictive drug. Products include gum, inhalers, and patches. Prescription drugs to facilitate smoking cessation are also available.

    People with COPD should avoid all inhaled irritants, whenever possible. This can mean avoiding air pollution, dust, or smoke from wood-burning fireplaces, for example.   

  • Life Goes On

    Living with COPD doesn’t mean you have to stop living your life. Although there is no cure for COPD, newer medications and treatments have made it possible to live nearly normally. It’s important to work with your doctor and take any prescribed medications. 

    It’s also important to keep yourself as healthy as possible. This can mean focusing on good nutrition, getting plenty of sleep, and even engaging in regular exercise to promote and maintain wellbeing. People with chronic bronchitis, for example, may be especially susceptible to respiratory infections. Taking extra steps to avoid infection is crucial.

  • Defend Against Infections

    People with COPD are at special risk for respiratory infections, which can trigger flare-ups. Infections that affect the airways can often be avoided with good hand-washing hygiene. Cold viruses, for instance, are often passed through touch. Touching a door handle and then rubbing your eyes can transmit cold viruses, for example. 

    It’s important to wash your hands often when out in public. Antibacterial products are not necessary, unless you’re in a healthcare setting. Simple soap and running water do a good job of removing potentially infectious germs.

    It may also be helpful to avoid contact with people who show signs of cold or flu. Your doctor may also recommend an annual flu vaccine.

  • Focus on Good Nutrition

    Eating right is an important way to keep your body and your immune system strong. Sometimes, people with advanced COPD don’t get the proper nutrition they need to stay healthy. It may be helpful to eat smaller meals, more often.

    Your doctor may also recommend nutritional supplements to ensure you’re getting the essential nutrients you need. Try to eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, olive oil, and whole grains. Cut back on red meat, sugar, and processed foods. Following this dietary pattern, known as the Mediterranean diet, has been shown to help reduce chronic inflammation, while supplying plenty of fiber, antioxidants, and other nutrients to help keep you healthy.    

  • Be Prepared for Emergencies

    Become familiar with the signs of a flare-up. Familiarize yourself with the nearest place you can go to seek treatment if breathing becomes difficult. Keep your doctor’s phone number handy and don’t hesitate to call if your symptoms worsen. Also notify your doctor or healthcare professional if you develop any new or unusual symptoms, such as fever.

    Maintain a list of friends or family members that you can call on in case you need to be taken to a medical facility. Keep directions to your doctor’s office, or the nearest hospital, on hand. You should also keep a list of all medications you’re taking and give it to any healthcare provider that may need to administer emergency aid.

  • Tend to Your Emotional Needs

    People living with disabling diseases such as COPD occasionally succumb to anxiety, stress, or depression. Be sure to discuss any emotional issues with your doctor or healthcare provider. They may be able to prescribe medications to help you cope with anxiety or depression. They may also recommend other approaches to help you cope. This might include meditation, special breathing techniques, or joining a support group. Be open with friends and family about your state of mind and your concerns. Let them help in any way they can.  

  • Stay Active and Physically Fit

    According to a recent article in the International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, “pulmonary rehabilitation” is an intervention tailored to individual patients. Among other things, it includes exercise training to improve a patient’s emotional and physical condition, and to promote “health-enhancing behaviors.” Research shows that exercise training can improve exercise tolerance and improve quality of life among people with mild to moderate COPD. It can also help provide relief from shortness of breath.

1 of

References:

  • Bausewein, C., Booth, S., Gysels, M. & Higginson, I. (2008, April). Non-pharmacological interventions for breathlessness in advanced stages of malignant and non-malignant diseases. Cochrane Database Syst Rev., (2):CD005623. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD005623.pub2. Retrieved January 29, 2014, from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD005623.pub3/full
  • Brocklebank, D., Ram, F., Wright, J., Barry, P., Cates, C., Davies, L. et al. (2001). Comparison of the effectiveness of inhaler devices in asthma and chronic obstructive airways disease: a systematic review of the literature. Health Technol Assess., 5(26), 1-149. Retrieved February 4, 2014, from http://www.journalslibrary.nihr.ac.uk/hta/volume-5/issue-26
  • Butts, J.F., Belfer, M.H. & Gebke, K.B. (2013, February). Exercise for patients with COPD: an integral yet underutilized intervention. Phys Sportsmed., 41(1), 49-57. doi: 10.3810/psm.2013.02.1999. Retrieved February 4, 2014, from https://physsportsmed.org/doi/10.3810/psm.2013.02.1999
  • Castro-Quezada, I., Román-Viñas, B. & Serra-Majem, L. (2014, January). The mediterranean diet and nutritional adequacy: a review. Nutrients, 6(1), 231-248. doi: 10.3390/nu6010231. Retrieved February 4, 2014, from http://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/6/1/231
  • Corhay, J.L., Dang, D.N., Van Cauwenberge, H. & Louis, R. (2014). Pulmonary rehabilitation and COPD: providing patients a good environment for optimizing therapy. Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis., 9, 27-39. Retrieved February 4, 2014, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3869834/
  • De Backer, J., Vos, W., Van Holsbeke, C., Vinchurkar, S., Claes, R., Parizel, P.M. et al. (2013). Effect of high-dose N-acetylcysteine on airway geometry, inflammation, and oxidative stress in COPD patients. Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis., 8, 569-79. doi: 10.2147/COPD.S49307. Retrieved January 27, 2014, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3842218/
  • Gandhi, A., Walsh, E.E., Formica, M.A., Hennessey, P.A., Criddle, M.M., Peterson, D.R. et al. (2012, December). Factors associated with symptomatic rhinovirus infection in patients with COPD. J Clin Virol., 55(4), 343-347. doi: 10.1016/j.jcv.2012.08.020. Retrieved February 4, 2014, from http://www.journalofclinicalvirology.com/article/S1386-6532(12)00324-1/abstract
  • How Is COPD Treated? (2013, July 31). National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Retrieved January 27, 2014, from http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/copd/treatment.html
  • Kiecolt-Glaser, J.K., McGuire, L., Robles, T.F. & Glaser, R. (2002, January-February). Psychoneuroimmunology and psychosomatic medicine: back to the future. Psychosom Med., 64(1), 15-28. Retrieved January 27, 2014, from http://www.psychosomaticmedicine.org/content/64/1/15.long
  • Living With COPD. (2013, July 31). National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Retrieved February 4, 2014, from http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/copd/livingwith.html
  • Lucas, L., Russell, A. & Keast, R. (2011). Molecular mechanisms of inflammation. Anti-inflammatory benefits of virgin olive oil and the phenolic compound oleocanthal. Curr Pharm Des., 17(8), 754-768. Retrieved February 4, 2014, from http://www.eurekaselect.com/73830/article
  • Meyer, K.C. (2013 November-December). COPD 2013: an update on treatment and newly approved medications for pharmacists. J Am Pharm Assoc., 53(6), e219-29; quiz e230-1. doi: 10.1331/JAPhA.2013.13535. Retrieved February 4, 2014, from http://japha.org/article.aspx?articleid=1765655
  • Monninkhof, E., van der Valk, P., van der Palen, J., van Herwaarden, C., Partridge, M.R. & Zielhuis, G. (2003, May). Self-management education for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a systematic review. Thorax, 58(5):394-8. Retrieved January 29, 2014, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1746688/
  • Pauwels, E.K. (2011). The protective effect of the Mediterranean diet: focus on cancer and cardiovascular risk. Med Princ Pract., 20(2), 103-11. doi: 10.1159/000321197. Retrieved February 4, 2014, from http://www.karger.com/Article/FullText/321197
  • Rahman, I. (2012, May). Pharmacological antioxidant strategies as therapeutic interventions for COPD. Biochim Biophys Acta., 1822(5), 714-728. doi: 10.1016/j.bbadis.2011.11.004. Retrieved January 27, 2014, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3295924/
  • Rahman, I. & Kinnula, V.L. (2012, May). Strategies to decrease ongoing oxidant burden in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Expert Rev Clin Pharmacol., 5(3), 293-309. doi: 10.1586/ecp.12.16. Retrieved January 27, 2014, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3376391/
  • Save Lives: Clean Your Hands. (2009, August). World Health Organization. Retrieved February 4, 2014, from http://www.who.int/gpsc/5may/Hand_Hygiene_When_and_How_Leaflet.pdf?ua=1
  • Schneiderman, N., Ironson, G. & Siegel, S.D. (2005). Stress and health: psychological, behavioral, and biological determinants. Annu Rev Clin Psychol., 2005, 1:607-28. Retrieved Jan. 27, 2014, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2568977/
  • Seemungal, T.A., Harper-Owen, R., Bhowmik, A., Jeffries, D.J. & Wedzicha, J.A. (2000, October). Detection of rhinovirus in induced sputum at exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Eur Respir J., 16(4), 677-83. Retrieved February 4, 2014, from http://erj.ersjournals.com/content/16/4/677.long
  • Spruit, M.A., Singh, S.J., Garvey, C., ZuWallack, R., Nici, L., Rochester, C. et al. (2013, October). An official American Thoracic Society/European Respiratory Society statement: key concepts and advances in pulmonary rehabilitation. Am J Respir Crit Care Med., 188(8), e13-64. doi: 10.1164/rccm.201309-1634ST. Retrieved February 4, 2014, from http://www.atsjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1164/rccm.201309-1634ST?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori:rid:crossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub%3dpubmed&#.UvFa2nk2UUo
  • Vieira, A.T., Teixeira, M.M. & Martins, F.S. (2013, December). The Role of Probiotics and Prebiotics in Inducing Gut Immunity. Front Immunol., 4:445. eCollection 2013. Retrieved February 4, 2014, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3859913/
  • What Is COPD? (2013, July 31). National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Retrieved January 27, 2014, from http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/copd/
Advertisement
Advertisement