Learning to Cope: Making Lifestyle Changes
Most people with chronic lung diseases don’t walk around saying, “Woe is me!” We don’t do that. We make adjustments and we learn to cope. And one of the bigger adjustments we make is making lifestyle changes. Here are some of the lifestyle changes people with COPD find themselves making.
Quitting smoking if you smoke
Cigarette smoking is not the only cause of COPD, but it is the most common. And encouraging people diagnosed with COPD to quit smoking is the most common lifestyle change recommended by experts. There is good reason for this, as quitting smoking slows the progression of the disease so you can live longer and better with COPD.
Exercising and staying active
Many people don’t get enough exercise who have healthy lungs, so encouraging someone with a breathing disorder to start exercising, or at least to stay physically active, may seem like a tall order. Still, doing so helps to keep your heart, lungs, and muscles strong so you can continue to stay active long term.
Taking medicine every day
Most people do not take medicine every day. It’s not “normal” to take medicine every day. And most people aren’t diagnosed with COPD until after the age of 40. So, that means that most never took medicine until after being diagnosed. Now you have to take medicine every day so you can breathe easy and stay active.
Taking oxygen wherever you go
You want me to exercise, and now you want me to do it while lugging all this equipment with me. Well, yeah. Fortunately, there have been many advancements in recent years to oxygen equipment making it easier than ever before to stay active with oxygen.
Taking medicine with you wherever you go
Chances are, before you were diagnosed, when you wanted to go shopping, when you wanted to go on a vacation, you just grabbed or packed a few things and you were off. Now, you have to plan ahead to make sure you have all your medicine, and enough to last you through your journeys away from home.
Making your life trigger free
You have to make sure your house doesn’t contain anything that will trigger a flare-up. You also have to make sure people who visit you don’t wear things that will trigger a flare-up, such as strong colognes. Anyone who smokes will have to be instructed to do so outdoors. You may even have to avoid certain places, such as the homes of people who smoke or have pets. This may also entail gaining the support of family and friends to do chores around your home or with shopping.
Educating yourself about your COPD
Many people with COPD find that they become COPD experts by default. They pay attention to what their bodies are saying more so than before they were diagnosed. They learn the importance of working with their doctors and staying true to any agreed-upon treatment regimen. They learn that they are not alone, that there are many others living with it who have had many of the same experiences. And they learn that there are many people willing and capable of offering help and support, such as communities like ours.
Educating others about COPD
Many people learn that perhaps the hardest lifestyle change to make -- perhaps just a tad after quitting smoking -- is educating others about their disease and what it’s like living with it. Educating friends and family is important as their support may be needed to succeed at all the other lifestyle changes you’ll need to make.
These are just some of the lifestyle changes you have to make when you have a chronic disease like COPD. What are some of the lifestyle changes you have had to make?
Do you live with any sleep disorders (eg. insomnia, RLS, sleep apnea) in addition to COPD?