Living with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

By  ,  National Institute of Health
Dec 30, 2012

COPD has no cure yet. However, you can take steps to manage your symptoms and slow the progress of the disease. You can:

  • Avoid lung irritants
  • Get ongoing care
  • Manage the disease and its symptoms
  • Prepare for emergencies

Avoid Lung Irritants

If you smoke, quit. Smoking is the leading cause of COPD. Talk with your doctor about programs and products that can help you quit. Many hospitals have programs that help people quit smoking, or hospital staff can refer you to a program.
Try to avoid other lung irritants that can contribute to COPD. Examples include secondhand smoke, air pollution, chemical fumes, and dust. (Secondhand smoke is smoke in the air from other people smoking)

Keep these irritants out of your home. If your home is painted or sprayed for insects, have it done when you can stay away for a while.

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

Get Ongoing Care

If you have COPD, it's important to get ongoing medical care. Take all of your medicines as your doctor prescribes. Make sure to refill your prescriptions before they run out. Bring all of the medicines you're taking when you have medical checkups.

Talk with your doctor about whether and when you should get flu (influenza) andpneumonia vaccines. Also, ask him or her 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 your disease and its symptoms. Depending on how severe your disease is, you may want to ask your family and friends for help with daily tasks. 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. Some people find it helpful 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.

Prepare for Emergencies

If you have COPD, knowing when and where to seek help for your symptoms is important. You should seek 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 for medical care. You also should have on hand directions to the doctor's office and hospital and a list of all the medicines you're taking.

Emotional Issues and Support

Living with COPD may cause fear, anxiety, depression, and stress. It's important to talk about how you feel with your health care team. Talking to a professional counselor also can help. If you're feeling very depressed, your doctor may recommend medicines or other treatments that can improve your quality of life.

Joining a patient support group may help you adjust to living with COPD. You can see how other people who have the same symptoms have coped with them. Talk with your doctor about local support groups or check with an area medical center.

Support from family and friends also can help relieve stress and anxiety. Let your loved ones know how you feel and what they can do to help you.


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