COPD Management Strategies
In a previous article, I referred to my four pillars of living well with COPD. They are knowledge, medication, nutrition and exercise. In this article, I thought I would expand on how I use these four pillars.
Knowledge is power. The power to do things better. When we talk about COPD, it is important we learn as much as possible about our disease. When I say our, I mean your own disease, as everyone is different. You will often hear me talk about my COPD because my COPD may be different from yours.
In order to manage our COPD, we need to know everything we can about it. What works for us and what doesn’t, our triggers, our strengths and our weaknesses. The more we learn the better we will manage our disease which means the better quality of life we have.
Our knowledge can come from a range of resources. We learn from our own experiences and we can learn from fellow patients. Our doctors are obviously a wealth of information. Every visit I have with my respiratory doctor, I have a list of questions about my COPD. Patient groups, either online or face to face are a great way to exchange ideas.
We also have a vast resource of online information from many lung disease associations around the world. Don’t just check the association related to your country, look at other countries and see what they are doing.
This pillar is an obvious one you’d think. However, in an article from the American Thoracic Society, patient adherence to pharmacologic or nonpharmacologic treatments is a common problem. Inhalers and other pharmacologic medications prescribed by your doctor is vital for managing COPD. Nonpharmacologic treatments such as pulmonary rehabilitation, continued exercise and self-management strategies are also a vital part of living well with COPD.1
If you are having trouble with any of the prescribed medications you take, it is important to talk to your doctor about this rather than just not taking them. Your doctor can provide other options and solutions, so your symptoms don’t worsen.
This is a personal favorite of mine and in future articles, I will go into more depth with nutritional strategies. For the purpose of this article, I can say for me, I have seen a great deal of benefit from eating the right foods. Nutrition plays an important role in our body from fuelling it for energy to suppressing inflammation.
In the past nutrition, has been my forth pillar. However, my journey into nutritional strategies for my COPD has shown me by eating the right food you can improve your breathlessness. With this in mind, for me, it makes more sense for a patient to reduce their breathlessness before they were enrolled in pulmonary rehabilitation.
Nutrition is not widely talked about in the patient or healthcare community but given the ease in which nutritional strategies can be implemented and there being no requirement to conduct studies, nutritional strategies make sense.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say after having completed 3 Ironman events and many marathons, exercise is my specialty. Don’t worry, I’m not for a minute going to suggest you have to do the same. Exercise, like nutrition, is individual. What works for one person may not work for another. The main goal with exercise is to make it a regular part of your life.
Studies have shown the benefits of Pulmonary rehabilitation programs for COPD patients. Most programs run between 6-12 weeks depending on where you live. What is just as important as pulmonary rehabilitation is to maintain your exercise regime after the program is finished.2
Self-managing your COPD between doctors’ visits is so important if you want to live the best life possible. I firmly believe by adhering to my four pillars strategy you can live well with COPD.
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