Lifestyle Changes to Manage COPD
Living With COPD: This Can Be Good For You
A diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, might be one of the best things to happen to you. Living successfully with COPD will change your life for the better and may substantially increase your lifespan.
Since smoking is the leading cause of COPD, the first step in learning to live with this disease is to stop smoking. Admittedly, this is much easier said than done. However, advances in health care have generated many ways to ensure success for those who want to stop smoking. Some of the options available are:
- Stop smoking by quitting cold turkey
- Gradually decrease the number of cigarettes you smoke
- Smoke low-nicotine cigarettes to taper off to not smoking
- Wear nicotine patches that will gradually decrease the amount of nicotine in your system
- Reward yourself for each day that you are nicotine free
- Avoid smoke and association with smokers
Most health care providers will cover the cost of a program designed to help you stop smoking. Although the programs are expensive, the medical bills for a smoker are significantly higher than those for a non-smoker, so the insurance provider ultimately saves money.
If you relapse, don’t berate yourself. Acknowledge that you slipped and start anew the next day. Setting impossibly high standards for yourself can set you up for failure. Maintain a positive attitude and be happy with each day’s success.
Eating a healthy diet is essential to successfully coping with COPD. Focus on organic, pesticide-free fruits and vegetables, eat whole grains that are not GMO, and buy lean proteins that are sustainably raised. Although these items may seem more expensive initially, the cost savings of not smoking will more than offset the increased cost of healthy eating.
Equally important to eating healthy is an exercise program that works with your body. Since COPD adversely affects your breathing, passive exercise such as yoga, tai chi, or resistance training can be beneficial while not taxing damaged lungs. These types of exercise regimens will help you learn to control your breathing, which is vital to living successfully with COPD.
Be sure to maintain a schedule of regular check-ups with your health care provider. Those who live with COPD are at a higher risk for infections and some illnesses. Maintain good hygiene by frequently washing your hands for at least 30 seconds, using warm water and a good soap.
When possible, limit your exposure to those who are ill, particularly those who have the flu or a cold. Although your healthy eating patterns can help boost your immune system, COPD compromises your immune system.
Reduce your stress level as much as possible. Stress compromises your immune system and further lowers your ability to fight infections. If you notice that you are having a flare up, be sure to notify your medical practitioner and take the necessary steps to protect yourself.
Living with COPD will require some adjustments in your daily routine, but it is definitely achievable and ultimately, it is in your best interests and may well give you a longer life.