The official blog of the Lung Institute.
A better quality of life is possible, it just takes a few steps.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is without question a difficult disease to manage. From the frequent bouts of breathlessness, fatigue and coughing, daily life can be difficult on the most basic levels. When adding daily routines such as doing chores, commuting, taking care of your responsibilities at work and generally getting around during the day, these symptoms can present a sizeable challenge to those with the disease.
Within this status quo, many with COPD find themselves looking desperately for any form of relief. And though this may take the form of treatment options such as stem cell therapy, or the use of inhalers, having surgery or even supplemental oxygen, it’s important to note there are a variety of things you can do right now to better affect your quality of life with COPD.
With your health in mind, the Lung Institute is here to explore the 7 Ways to Live Better with COPD you can start today.
- Quit Smoking
This is both very simple and the hardest thing you may ever do. Quitting smoking is by far one of the healthiest lifestyle choices you can make, particularly for those with chronic lung disease. Although for many, the habit has been ingrained over years, even decades, evolving into a habit that feels as natural to the body as moving a limb. However, the simplicity of quitting smoking comes not in the long-term vision of a smoke-free life—this can be discouraging—instead through the philosophy of taking things one day at a time. Days add to weeks, weeks add to months, and months add to years. The key here is patience. Your lungs, friends, and grandchildren will thank you, and your life will be longer because of it.
- Take Your Medication as Directed
When first receiving a diagnosis from your primary physician, the news can be hard to swallow—let alone the complex prescription directions that often follow. Because of this, many with COPD and other lung diseases are often taking their medications and prescriptions incorrectly. In the case of women, there’s a tendency to underuse, while in men, usage tends to swing the opposite with a clear overuse. For optimal results be sure to follow your prescriptions as directed.
- Improve the Air Around You
Like the problems inherent in smoking, air quality can produce a significant effect on your respiratory health. This fact is most evident when the quality of the air around you is poor and filled with harmful particulates. For example, if you live with someone who smokes, the air conditions are simply a lighter form of direct smoke inhalation (secondhand smoke). The same can be said for those who work under harsh respiratory conditions (coal mines, construction, etc.) without taking the proper precautions to filter this air before it enters their lungs. To alleviate this, take steps to clean the air that surrounds you—particularly when indoors.
Invest in a few household plants; their natural oxidation will remove harmful chemicals from the air and produce healthy and clean oxygen.
- Change Your Diet
It cannot be stated enough how important your diet is to the health of your body. Your body requires a delicate mix and balance of vitamins and nutrients daily, and the absence of any of these may mean impaired functioning of a vital organ—in this case, the lungs. To improve your general health and overall energy levels, be sure to consume a healthy diet:
- Good fats (fish oils, peanut butters, avocados)
- Healthy protein (almonds, lean chicken, black beans)
- No fried foods, fast foods, or sodas
- Try to lay off excessive cheese and dairy
- Drink plenty of water (and milk too)
- Increase Your Exercise
Regular exercise can produce extraordinary respiratory benefits for those with COPD. However, for many with breathing and energy problems—the hallmark symptoms of those with COPD or other lung diseases—the idea of regular exercise can be daunting. In many cases these self-defeating thoughts come from the idea of starting an extensive exercise routine. Rather than beating yourself up over the fact you can’t run a marathon, just try for a short walk to the mailbox or to the end of the block. You can increase the challenge of the activity as things get easier, but the key is to be consistent and keep pushing yourself. Over time, these incremental steps will add up and you may be running marathons someday.
- Practice Breathing Exercises
If going outside to exercise is a bit too intimidating right now, stay indoors and try a good breathing exercise to work out your lungs. COPD breathing techniques are used to largely calm irregular breathing in fits of panic because of exacerbations.
Try the Pursed Lips Breathing technique:
- Relax your neck and shoulders.
- Breathe in slowly through your nostrils while you count to two (keeping your mouth closed).
- Pucker your lips as if you’re giving a kiss.
- Breathe out slowly and steadily through your mouth while you count to four.
- Take Daily Vitamins
Although this is a general recommendation to anyone—old or young, sick or healthy—it’s good to make sure you’re getting all the vitamins you need each day. Though this shouldn’t change the way you eat, taking a multivitamin daily will aid in improving your overall health by ensuring you aren’t missing any crucial nutrients.
The Next Step
When lifestyle changes fail to improve your quality of life in the way you may expect, it may be time to consider stem cell therapy. Rather than addressing the symptoms of lung disease, stem cell therapy may directly affect disease progression and may improve quality of life.
For more information on stem cell therapy and what it could mean for your life moving forward, contact us today or call us at (800) 729-3065. Our patient coordinators will walk you through our available treatment options, talk through your current health and medical history and determine a qualifying treatment plan that works best for you.
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