Quitting smoking will slow the progression of COPD.
The first step in preventing and treating COPD is to quit smoking. If you have COPD and you continue smoking, your lungs will get worse. The best way to prevent COPD from developing or to stop it from getting worse is to quit smoking.
It is NEVER TOO LATE to quit smoking (contact Open Airways for information about smoking cessation programs).
COPD patients have a higher risk of requiring hospitalization due to the flu. COPD patients should receive a flu shot once a year. Consult your doctor to see if you need a pneumonia vaccine. COVID???
Exercise can help keep you from deterioration physically and improve your ability to carry out daily activities. Benefits include improved breathing, improved endurance of leg muscles, and improved quality of life.
- Singing can be a great exercise for your lungs, join a choir and socialise at the same time!
- Buy yourself some sneakers and get walking, simple and effective, the best exercise.
- Talk to your doctor or physiotherapist for guidance on exercise.
Control Your Breathing
COPD can cause airways to collapse when you breathe out (exhale), trapping stale air. This leaves less room in your lungs for fresh air to enter. When this happens you are likely to feel short of breath.
Techniques such as Pursed-lip breathing keeps airways open longer during exhalation. This helps release trapped air from your lungs and allows fresh air to come in.
Practice pursed-lip breathing while you are resting so you can use this technique when you are feeling short of breath. Use this technique during exercise or activities that causes you to be short of breath. However, this technique also may be used at anytime. Link here to pop-out of pursed breathing. (below)
- Breathe in or inhale through your nose at a normal rate and depth. Feel your lungs fill with air.
- Purse your lips together as if you are going to whistle or play a flute.
- Breathe out or exhale slowly and gently through your mouth, keeping your lips pursed. The time it takes to exhale should be 2 to 3 times longer than the time you inhale. Do not force air out.
- Adjust your breathing rhythm and the amount you purse your lips to increase your comfort.
Here are some additional tips for controlling breathing:
- Breathlessness quick reference guide (from Asthma Foundation New Zealand) https://www.asthmafoundation.org.nz/assets/documents/2021-ARFNZ-breathlessness-quick-reference-2_RLR_2021.pdf
- Additional tool guides (from Asthma Foundation New Zealand)
Controlling your anxiety is very important when preventing and decreasing shortness of breath.
The less you do, the less you are in shape, the more anxious you will become, and short of breath.
This is a vicious cycle, that needs to be broken.
Additional Tips for Living with COPD
- Don’t smoke
- Avoid unhealthy air quality, keep away from dust, fumes and smoke. Avoid fresh air sprays and plug-ins and household cleaning chemicals especially aerosols. Avoid products with fragrances. Do not use scented candles or essential oil diffusers.
- Open windows every day, turn on a fan or use a hand-held fan.
- Clean without chemicals using microfiber cloths, damp mops and a vacuum cleaner.
- Get annual flu shot and ask your doctor about the pneumonia and other vaccines too.
- Eat a healthy diet, see a dietitian if you need to lose weight or have difficulty eating due to severe breathlessness. (Contact Island Nutrition – [email protected] phone: 2954082)
- Practice your breathing exercises every day
Keep moving – at whatever stage of COPD you must keep moving, walking at whatever pace is comfortable for you is the simplest form of exercise.