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10 Tips to Help You Cope with COPD.

10 Tips to Help You Cope with COPD

Being told you have a lung disease like COPD can be a frightening experience. The idea it’s associated with being short of breath and that it forces you to make lifestyle changes that you probably don’t want to make can be hard to take. Still, there are things you can do to make breathing easier so you can live well with this disease. Here are ten tips to help you cope with COPD.

  1. Develop a good relationship with your doctor. It all begins by finding a good doctor, one who works well for you, one you feel comfortable talking to. If this is not the case with your present doctor, it may be time for a change. There are many doctors out there, and it’s important you find one who is right for you.
  2. Be honest with your doctor. There are certain things we don’t feel comfortable talking about with anyone, including our doctors. A perfect example here is feelings of anxiety or depression, which are common among the COPD community. If you have these feelings, the best thing you can do is tell your doctor so you can get the help you need. So, if you don’t feel right, be sure to share it with your doctor.
  3. Be compliant with your treatment regimen. You and your doctor will become a team, and your goal will be to keep you breathing easy. This may entail taking medicine every day and wearing oxygen. It may entail wearing a breathing machine (like CPAP and BiPAP) at night. It may also entail participating in a pulmonary rehabilitation program. These are all meant to prevent flare-ups and make them less severe when they do occur.
  4. Develop a COPD Action Plan. The ultimate goal of a COPD treatment regimen is to prevent flare-ups. Still, sometimes they cannot be prevented. It’s important to discuss with your physician what to do when you feel symptoms, and this should entail creating a plan telling you what actions to take and when. Should you take your medicine? Should you tweak your dose? Should you call a friend or relative? Should you call your doctor? Should you call 911? It should all be in the plan.
  5. Don’t let flare-ups get you down. It’s never easy when you can’t breathe. It’s never fun to make unscheduled doctor visits or to spend time in hospitals. However, there may be times when an inevitable flare-up occurs. Doctors will work their magic to help you get back on your feet again. Then there are things that can be done, such as tweaking your treatment regimen, to get you back on track.
  6. Be open minded about trying something new. If you continue having flare-ups, or if you just don’t feel right, your doctor may recommend tweaking your treatment regimen. This may entail a simple change in dose or frequency of your current medicines, or it may entail trying a new medicine. There are many medicinal options, and new ones are constantly being introduced. Sometimes the simplest path to breathing easy is the open mindedness to try something new.
  7. Educate yourself about your disease. The more you know about your disease the better equipped you will be to cope with it. My personal recommendation is for you to read at least one book on your disease, like COPD for Dummies, just so you can get basics down. Then you’ll want to keep up to date on all the latest, and the best way of doing this is by hanging out in COPD communities like ours.
  8. Hang out at sites like ours. There are so many advantages to hanging out at communities like ours. You will not only have access to all the latest wisdom about your disease, but you’ll learn right away when new medicinal options become available. You will also meet other people living with it just like you, along with experts offering tips and advice, to provide you the support you need to cope.
  9. Join a pulmonary rehabilitation program. I cannot say enough about pulmonary rehabilitation programs, as there are many benefits to them. Pretty much, this entails everything listed in tips 1-8 and lots more. Such programs entail working with COPD experts who teach you everything you need to know about coping with this disease. So, if there is such a program in your area, we highly recommend it.
  10. Keep a positive attitude. As a respiratory therapist of nearly 20 years experience, I have met many people with COPD, many of whom have gone on to stay active and have very productive lives. One of my patients recently told me she does not like having COPD, but she understands that God has a mission for her, so she is thankful for every moment she is alive, and will continue to make the most of every one of those moments. Whether you believe in God or not, a positive attitude can go a long way to helping you cope with this disease.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The COPD.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Linda
    4 months ago

    I’ve been reading these 10 tips to cope with c.o.p.d. I’m trying to learn what to do BEFORE I end up in the hospital. I’ve been to pulmonary rehab about two years ago. It really did help even though it was quite a distance to walk through the hospital to get to the rehab center. I made the mistake of not keeping up with the exercising. It’s very difficult for me to stay motivated. Here at home I walk quite a bit and I have stairs I use at least twice a day. It takes me longer to do things but it is what it is. Some nights if I don’t feel like I can do the stairs I just sleep downstairs on my recliner.

    I was on here before and was doing alright but I’ve been in the hospital twice in the past year with pneumonia. I’m on O2 with activity. I very seldom leave the house except to go to doctor appointments but I’ve gotten the ‘bug’ anyway. My last hospital visit was in February. I’m hoping as the warmer weather approaches, I’ll feel more like getting outside. Also my pulmonologist has retired, now I must get used to a new doctor. I like her and she seems even more attentive. I see my family doctor once a month. So he keeps a check on me on a regular basis. I’m still trying to work out a plan so I don’t end up in the hospital so often.

    I try not to let flare-ups get me down but it’s very hard. I take meds for depression and anxiety. Sometimes I can be in the middle of something and just stop and cry for awhile, then sit till I settle down more and get up and push on. After all that’s all you really can do.

  • Jolenem614
    7 months ago

    I’m 38 and was diagnosed with COPD last year at stage 3, I’ve twins at 5 year old, most of my life I’ve had depression and anxiety disorders, so when my mood is low it’s hard to get motivated to commit to change, I did stop smoking but it didn’t last long, was in hospital last month with sepsis and spent 5 days on IV antibiotics and I didn’t even think about a cigarette but soon as I was let home it was the first thing I wanted, I am scared frustrated and fed up with feeling ill all the time, I’m normally really strong as I’ve battled many demons in my life, I just can’t find the strength to get better

  • Lyn Harper, RRT moderator
    7 months ago

    Jolenem614 – I’m so sorry you’re struggling with this. Sometimes when we become overwhelmed by trying to make too many changes at once, we just throw our hands up and say, “the heck with it”.

    Try attacking one thing at a time. Don’t beat yourself up when you have a set-back, just move on from there. You can quit smoking, you’ve done it before. Remember that – don’t keep reminding yourself that it didn’t last long. The point is, you were able to do it for a while. You can do it again!

    Have you spoken to your doctor about aides to help you quit? Not everyone can just stop, that’s why there are medications, patches, etc. Each person quit’s differently. So try to find what’s right for you.

    Regards,
    Lyn (site moderator)

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    7 months ago

    Hi Jolenem614 and thanks for your post. I know you posted something similar in another section of COPD.net. You can find that post here: https://copd.net/stories/always-tired/comment-page-1/#comments. (This was about 2 weeks ago) and we were able to provide support there as well.
    Please just keep at it – you can always count on this community to provide whatever support you may need. We are glad to have you as part of this community. Wishing you well, Leon (site moderator)

  • annette
    1 year ago

    i have had copd for awhile now. I ended up in the hospital with low oxygen levels. They sent me home with oxygen 24/7. I am having a hard time dealing with it. I have anxiety everyday from it. I have tried medication but all i do is sleep 24/7 in which i have a hard time with because i use to be so active. I have been searching ways to help deal with my anxiety

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi again, Annette and thanks for your more recent post earlier today. (see below, from 3 hours ago). I see you’ve been diagnosed with COPD for 15 years but have only been on oxygen for the last year and a half. Was there a change in your condition that resulted in the doctor prescribing supplemental oxygen for you? All the best, Leon (site moderator)

  • annette
    1 year ago

    been on oxygen for only 6 months. i was hospitalized with influenza complicated by my copd. The doctor then realized my oxygen level kept dropping so he said he was not going to release me until i had oxygen in my home so got the oxygen at home now. it has been really hard on me.

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi annette and we hear you. It is a challenge coping with and managing one’s COPD condition. How long have you been diagnosed with COPD? I trust that some of John’s pointers in the article (above) have given you some ideas that you might be able to use for yourself. If there is anything we can assist you with, please let us know. All the best, Leon (site moderator)

  • annette
    1 year ago

    I have had copd for 15 years. been on oxygen since december 2017

  • sillykate
    1 year ago

    I have done 3 pulminary rehab clinics, I wish they ran all rear round. The biggest advantage was the rice-weekly exercise programs – they got me fit and I felt so much stronger. Left to my own devices I do very little exercise.

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi sillykate and thanks for your post. It’s great to hear that you find pulmonary rehab programs to be of such a great benefit for the way you feel. Would it be possible for you to do some of the exercises you learned (during rehab), when you’re home alone and the program is not available? That might help you to stay in condition. All the best, Leon (site moderator)

  • charli
    2 years ago

    What’re the alternatives if you don’t have a pulmonary rehab in your area?

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi charli and thanks for your good question. While pulmonary rehab centers are out there, we are aware (too) that some communities do not have them at all. I would suggest you speak with your physician. He may be able to provide you with a basic exercise program that is suitable for your level of COPD and physical condition.
    Please check back with us and let us know how you’re doing
    All the best,
    Leon (site moderator)

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