Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a condition that affects about 24 million people in the United States. It is a progressive disease, meaning it gets worse in time, that causes shortness of breath and coughing.
COPD is a condition in which your airways become inflamed, making it more difficult to breathe and also causing mucus build up in your lungs. It’s a serious condition, but there are steps that you can take to improve your overall quality of life.
When you’re diagnosed with COPD, you and your doctor should come up with a COPD management plan.
This article is intended to serve as a guide; however, please check with your doctor before introducing anything new into your care plan.
Everyone is different, so there is no “one size fits all plan.”
When you have a strong COPD management plan, you’re more in control, rather than a victim of the disease. Taking an active role in managing your COPD will make you feel more secure and is an important aspect of living with COPD.
What is a COPD Management Plan?
A COPD management plan is a way for you to keep track of how you’re feeling and your medications, take action when you need to and communicate with your healthcare provider.
Keeping records can help you manage your medications, symptoms and recognize causes of exacerbations to help you better avoid them in the future. One way to do this is by keeping a journal.
Keeping a journal can help you feel a sense of order when everything might seem overwhelming. It’s also a creative way to come to terms with the reality of your condition as it helps to bring focus on the present moment.
This mindfulness can have an inner calming effect, which is very healing. We can’t underestimate the mental strength that is required with this condition that affects our physical bodies.
Keeping records is also a great way to review and adjust to protect your lungs in the future. You might notice patterns that lead to a better understanding of what causes flare-ups so that you may better protect your lungs in the future.
Read More: Meditation And Its Effects On COPD
The importance of good nutrition cannot be understated. Did you know that fried foods, cruciferous vegetables and salty foods could be harmful to a person with COPD? Read our Foods to Avoid article to learn more about which foods to stay away from, and why.
Embracing good nutrition sets you up for success because it sets the foundation for living a healthier life. If you have been diagnosed with COPD, work these into your COPD-friendly diet: lean protein, vitamin D, water and omega-3s.
It might be nerve-wracking to think about exercising when you’re already having trouble breathing. However, the truth is that inactivity can actually be worse, resulting in more flare-ups over time.
This happens because inactivity often leads to decreased muscle mass and a decline in cardiovascular function. The heart and lungs must work together to deliver oxygen throughout the body.
Regular exercise can gradually strengthen your muscles, increasing your stamina. It has the potential to reduce symptoms, such as shortness of breath. Regular exercise can help your body use oxygen more efficiently and can also improve circulation.
There are many different exercises that you can try. Cardiovascular exercise, such as walking or jogging, can help to strengthen your heart and lungs.
Strength training builds muscle which can make you feel stronger in accomplishing daily tasks. Stretching helps to improve your flexibility and circulation.
And finally, breathing exercises can help you breathe more effectively and reduce stress.
Embrace COPD Tools
There are several tools available that can help you stay organized with your COPD management plan. Here are some tips with an action plan that guides you on what to do during different types of flare-ups. This can be handy to print out and keep around the house.
The important thing with your COPD management plan is to better understand what causes flare-ups, how to prevent flare-ups from happening and feel more in control of the disease.
Christine Kingsley, APRN is the Health and Wellness Director at the Lung Institute where she focuses on providing helpful online resources for people looking for information on various lung diseases, breathing exercises, and healthy lifestyle choices. She advocates for holistic care that involves working with your doctor to explore all options including traditional and alternative care while focusing on diet and exercise as proactive measures.