Tips for Living Well with COPD | Treatment Care & Tips

Treatment Care & Tips

Tips for Living Well with COPD

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD for short, is the third leading cause of death and one of the leading causes of disability in the United States.

It is a progressive lung disease, meaning symptoms will get worse over time. Plus, people with COPD are at increased risk of having heart disease, lung cancer and other conditions.


There may be times when COPD keeps you from doing simple activities like walking or cooking, but the good news is these symptoms can be treated and managed. There are many ways to relieve COPD symptoms and slow its progress to improve your quality of life.


You can stay active and involved with family and friends if you take control of your health. Learning about treatment options, trying breathing techniques and making lifestyle changes are the best steps to take so living with COPD is more manageable.


Medical Treatment
Each person’s COPD is different, so your doctor will work with you on a plan to address your symptoms and needs. There is no “best” medicine for all people, but your doctor may suggest the below treatments:

  • Medications
  • Oxygen therapy
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation
  • Surgery
  • Clinical trials


It is important to talk to your doctor about all the treatment options to figure out what is best for you. You should also check in with your doctor when you’re in distress or have a new symptom. You may need to change your treatment as symptoms change or progress.


Breathing Exercises
Having COPD makes it harder to breathe. When it’s hard to breathe, it’s normal to get anxious. And feeling anxious can make you feel even more short of breath.


Breathing exercises can help improve your shortness of breath. There are two breathing exercises2 that can help you get the air you need without working so hard to breathe:

  • Pursed-lips Breathing helps you focus, slow your breathing down and stay calm. It should be used with any activity that makes you feel short of breath, including exercise.
  • When you have COPD, your diaphragm doesn’t work as well. Training your diaphragm to take over the “work of breathing” from other muscles using Diaphragmatic (Belly or Abdominal) Breathing exercises can help.


Visit the COPD Foundation to learn more about these breathing exercises. And don’t forget to ask your doctor if they are right for you.


Lifestyle Changes
Lifestyle changes can help you reduce your risk of getting infections. This is very important because infections are the most common cause of COPD flare-ups.


Below are some lifestyle changes you should consider making if you have COPD.

  • Quit smoking
  • Avoid allergens and irritants
  • Get vaccinations for the flu and pneumonia
  • Practice good hygiene, especially good hand washing techniques
  • Eat a well-balanced diet that includes a lot of protein
  • Get regular exercise
  • Reduce stress


Having COPD doesn’t mean that you have to stop living your normal life. Talk to your doctor about a treatment plan so you can better manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life.


Gateway Health is also here to help! We offer the Gateway to Lifestyle Management (GTLM) program for Medicaid and Medicare Assured members with chronic conditions like COPD. Contact us today to get the tools and support you need to take control of your health.



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