The official blog of the Lung Institute.

5 Tips to Improve COPD Life Expectancy

11 Aug 2017
| Under COPD, Lifestyle | Posted by | 5 Comments

For millions of Americans diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the first question to their doctor may be, “How long do I have?” Alternative treatment options exist, but there are a variety of factors to consider, including one’s genetic history, lifestyle habits–especially whether they exercise or smoke–environmental surroundings and whether they have a healthy diet. There are things to avoid and things to embrace, so the Lung Institute offers these 5 Tips to Improve COPD Life Expectancy.

Coping with COPD symptoms and living well may seem nearly impossible. COPD causes shortness of breath, fatigue, wheezing and persistent coughing. Often, people with COPD need to use supplemental oxygen to ensure they receive enough oxygen. With so much to manage, it’s understandable to feel frustrated and overwhelmed. To help you sort things out, we’ve put together these tips to help you maximize your quality of life.

Avoid Lung Irritants and COPD Triggers

One key tip for managing your COPD symptoms and living well is to avoid lung irritants and COPD triggers. Some of the most common COPD triggers include indoor and outdoor allergens, cigarette smoke, second-hand smoke and infections.

Quitting smoking is one of the most important changes you can make. Smoking is the number one cause of COPD. Cigarette smoke contains tar and various toxic chemicals. These chemicals irritate the lungs, damaging the cilia or tiny hairs that clean the airways. If you’re struggling with quitting smoking, give our free smoking cessation guide a try and talk with your doctor for more tips.

Second-hand smoke also irritates the lungs and can change how the lungs and airways work. Do not allow smoking in your home. If someone wants to smoke, ask him or her to smoke outside and away from windows and doors.

Indoor and outdoor allergens can trigger COPD symptoms. Keeping your home clean and staying aware of the outdoor air quality are important. If the outdoor air quality is poor, consider staying inside. Before going outside, be sure to check your local outdoor air quality report.


Improve Indoor Air Quality

If the indoor air quality is poor, managing COPD symptoms and living well can be more challenging. Sources of indoor air pollution include chemical cleaning products, allergens, mold, building materials and combustion sources like tobacco smoke, gas and furnaces.

Drapes, carpets and bedding hold allergens like dust and pet dander. Vacuuming the carpet regularly helps lessen these allergens. Washing drapery on a regular basis also helps reduce allergens. To decrease allergens in your bedroom, keep pets out and wash the bedding in hot water weekly. Place your mattress and pillows in dust mite-proof zippered cases.

Fumes from cleaning products can worsen COPD symptoms. Some products release volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can irritate the eyes and throat, causing headaches and worsening COPD symptoms. Try keeping your home clean with non-toxic, fragrance-free cleaning products. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lists products that meet its Safer Choice requirements. Consider cleaning with hydrogen peroxide, warm water, soap, baking soda and vinegar.

If you decide to cleanse the air in your home, air purifiers with HEPA filters as well as natural air purifiers work to improve the quality of indoor air. Keep your windows closed and air conditioning on during days of high outdoor pollution.

Change Your Diet

Certain foods can worsen COPD symptoms. These foods include cold cuts, excessive salt, dairy products, cruciferous vegetables, fried foods, sodas, carbonated drinks and acidic foods. Having the right diet for you and your lungs can make coping with COPD symptoms and living well easier.

Cured meats or cold cuts, contain additives called nitrates. Nitrates help extend shelf life and add color. Salt can make people retain water, and excess water can cause breathing problems. Try using herbs and spices to season your food instead. Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower, contribute to gas and bloating, making breathing difficult for people with COPD. Dairy products can increase mucus, and carbonated drinks and acidic foods contribute to unwanted acid reflux and bloating.

In addition to avoiding certain foods, try COPD-friendly foods, such as baked meats seasoned with herbs and spices. Steamed vegetables like carrots, peas and green beans are full of nutrients but won’t cause gas and bloating. When you’re thirsty, drink water, and you’ll avoid the excessive calories and bloating of carbonated beverages.

Get Active

It may seem counter-intuitive, but staying active and getting plenty of exercise helps people with COPD stay healthier. Because cardio-aerobic exercise stimulates increased blood flow, it allows your heart to pump more blood, which helps improve blood oxygen levels.

You can also gain more strength and stamina when you exercise. Exercise capacity is a key element in the COPD stages, and knowing your exercise tolerance helps doctors determine your stage of COPD.

Walking, yoga and tai chi are types of gentle exercises that many people can do. Keep in mind that it takes time to improve your stamina, so start slow. Consider inviting a friend to walk or exercise with you.

Before starting or changing an exercise plan, ask your doctor about what types of exercise and what intensities of exercise are best for you.

moving_forwardMoving Forward…

Working with your doctor is essential when it comes to COPD symptoms and living well. You and your doctor will work together to develop the best treatment plan for you. Remember to see your doctor regularly even if you’re feeling well. Your doctor will keep track of your COPD symptoms, changes in your pulmonary health and your overall health.

Your doctor may recommend lung function tests, such as a pulmonary function test or a 6-minute walk test. These types of tests will help your doctor categorize your COPD into stages. They also aid your doctor in developing a treatment plan.

COPD treatments include medications, inhalers, oxygen therapy and pulmonary rehabilitation. These types of treatment work to manage COPD symptoms. However, none of them have the ability to address disease progression. Stem cell therapy works differently than most COPD treatments by potentially promoting healing from within the lungs. Stem cell therapy may even address disease progression and improve quality of life.

If you or a loved one suffers from a chronic disease like ILD, COPD, pulmonary fibrosis or other symptoms of lung disease, the Lung Institute may be able to help with a variety of adult stem cell treatment options. Contact us today at (800) 729-3065 to see if you qualify for stem cell therapy, and find out what stem cell therapy could mean for you.



  1. Charlie davis

    6 months ago

    There is a lot of good information in this blog. Thxs

  2. PB

    1 year ago

    Dear Carla,

    Thanks for your comment and question. Unfortunately, at this time, insurance companies don’t cover treatment. However, we’re hopeful that treatment will be covered by insurance companies in the near future. Keep in mind that it will take some time before the insurance companies see a financial benefit in their favor and then decide to cover it. We’re happy to answer your questions about stem cell treatment options, so feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149 to speak one-on-one with a patient coordinator. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Kind Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  3. Carla Flamm

    1 year ago

    We have very good ins. Is this covered by ins.?

  4. PB

    1 year ago

    Dear Barry,

    Thanks for your comment and for your service to our country. Yes, the Lung Institute has treated veterans with COPD and other chronic lung diseases. The best next step for you to take is to contact us to speak one-on-one with a patient coordinator. Our patient coordinators have a wealth of knowledge about stem cells, treatment, candidacy and cost, and they are happy to answer your questions. So, feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149, and we look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Kind Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  5. Barry Terwilliger

    1 year ago

    I am a veteran and attend regular appointments at the VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System, North Las Vegas, NV. I am diagnosed with COPD. Does your institute work with veterans? If so, what procedures may I follow to become involved with your Lung Institute program. Thank you for the powerful work that you do. God Bless.

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* All treatments performed at Lung Institute utilize autologous stem cells, meaning those derived from a patient's own body. No fetal or embryonic stem cells are utilized in Lung Institute's procedures. Lung Institute aims to improve patients' quality of life and help them breathe easier through the use of autologous stem cell therapy. To learn more about how stem cells work for lung disease, click here.

All claims made regarding the efficacy of Lung Institute's treatments as they pertain to pulmonary conditions are based solely on anecdotal support collected by Lung Institute. Individual conditions, treatment and outcomes may vary and are not necessarily indicative of future results. Testimonial participation is voluntary. Lung Institute does not pay for or script patient testimonials.

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As required by Texas state law, the Lung Institute Dallas Clinic has received Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval from MaGil IRB, now Chesapeake IRB, which is fully accredited by the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Program (AAHRPP), for research protocols and stem cell procedures. The Lung Institute has implemented these IRB approved standards at all of its clinics nationwide. Approval indicates that we follow rigorous standards for ethics, quality, and protections for human research.