Living with COPD

As there is no cure for COPD taking responsibility of the management of the symptoms to slow down the progression of the disease is very important.

The four crucial areas to manage are :

  • Avoiding lung irritants
  • Ensure ongoing care
  • Manage the disease and its symptoms
  • Prepare for any emergencies

Avoiding Lung Irritants

As smoking is the leading cause of COPD then the most important thing is to stop immediately. Talk with your doctor about programs and products that can help you quit.

Watch what you breathe.

To reduce symptoms of COPD, and chances of a flare-up, there are certain things that should be avoided if possible, including:

Dusty places, fumes, such as car exhausts, air freshener sprays or plug-ins, strong-smelling cleaning products (unless there is plenty of ventilation), hairspray, perfume etc

Keep your windows closed and stay at home (if possible) when there's a lot of air pollution or dust outside.

Ongoing Care

If you have COPD, it's important to get ongoing medical care and support. It's important to take your medication as prescribed, even if you start to feel better. Continuous medication can help prevent flare-ups. If you have questions or concerns about the medication you're taking or side effects, talk to your healthcare team.

Discuss with your doctor about whether and when you should get 'flu (influenza) vaccines.  Also, ask about other diseases for which COPD may increase your risk, such as heart disease, lung cancer and pneumonia.

Manage COPD and Its Symptoms

You can do things to help manage COPD and its symptoms. For example:

  • Do activities slowly.
  • Put items that you need often in one place that's easy to reach.
  • Find very simple ways to cook, clean, and do other chores. For example, you might want to use a small table or cart with wheels to move things around and a pole or tongs with long handles to reach things.
  • Ask for help moving things around in your house so that you won't need to climb stairs as often.
  • Keep your clothes loose, and wear clothes and shoes that are easy to put on and take off.

Depending on how severe your disease is, you may want to ask your family and friends for help with daily tasks.

Prepare for Emergencies

If you have COPD, know when and where to seek help for your symptoms. You should get emergency care if you have severe symptoms, such as trouble catching your breath or talking.

Call your doctor if you notice that your symptoms are worsening, or if you have signs of an infection, such as a fever. Your doctor may change or adjust your treatments to relieve and treat symptoms.

Keep phone numbers handy for your doctor, hospital, and someone who can take you to receive medical care. You also should have to hand directions to the doctor's office and hospital and a list of all the medicines you're taking.