Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), is a lifelong medical problem. However, there are medical treatments, and also lifestyle changes, that can help improve your quality of life if you have COPD (e.g., chronic bronchitis, emphysema). Here are some things you can try.
- Avoid pollutants. COPD is most often caused by smoking cigarettes, but you can also get it from long-term exposure to secondhand smoke, air pollution, or chemical fumes. If you’re still smoking, it’s time to quit. Your Kansas City primary care physician (PCP) can help. If you work in a place where you’re exposed to chemical fumes or other types of air pollution (e.g., dust, lead, asbestos), ask your supervisor about respiratory protective equipment.
- See your Kansas City pulmonologist on a regular basis. If you don’t have a pulmonologist, ask your PCP for a referral. Your pulmonologist can prescribe medications that will help you breathe easier. Or adjust your medications if the ones you’re taking now aren’t working.
- Take your COPD medications regularly. Some COPD medications may take up to two weeks to start working, so give them time. Some people also find COPD medications challenging to use. If you don’t get the results you were hoping for after two weeks, call your pulmonologist.
- Go to pulmonary rehabilitation. Pulmonary rehab can help improve your breathing and your quality of life. It consists of things like:
- Exercise training
- Nutrition counseling
- Education on managing your COPD
- Breathing exercises
- Psychological counseling
- Watch your weight. Being overweight can make it more difficult for you to breathe. On the other hand, severe COPD can cause you to use so much excess energy on breathing, you can’t keep the weight on. In either case, ask your doctor for help maintaining an appropriate weight.
Uncontrolled COPD can lead to other health issues like pneumonia, lung cancer, heart disease, pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the arteries to your lungs), and/or depression. So taking measures to control your COPD can decrease your risk of developing other potentially debilitating diseases.
If you’re having difficulty controlling your COPD and you need help with things like meal preparation, light housekeeping, transportation, exercising, or running errands, contact a Kansas City home health agency.