Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a common condition affecting the lungs. Although living with COPD can bring challenges, with the right support and appropriate treatment, it can be managed effectively.
Here are some tips to help you to get the most out of life and live every breath.
Talking openly to the people close to you about your condition and its impact will help them understand how best to support you. Knowing you have practical and emotional support, whether from family, friends or work colleagues, can be comforting and reassuring.
It is estimated that 384 million people are living with COPD globally.1 Some people find talking to others who have a similar condition beneficial.2 COPD patient organisations offer advice and support and many have local groups that meet regularly.
Goal-setting has been shown to help people better manage chronic conditions.3
Try to set goals that are individual to you but also achievable, it might seem overwhelming, but even small changes can make a big difference.
When you’re living with COPD it’s easy to become less active when you feel out of breath. However, it’s important to keep moving because physical activity can ease your symptoms and improve your overall health and wellbeing. Exercise has been shown to be safe and beneficial for most people with COPD.4,5
Try a rehabilitation programme or speak to your doctor or nurse about gentle exercises that are suitable for you.
During a spell of hot weather, it’s important that you stay hydrated and cool – try to remain indoors during the hottest times of the day. Hot weather can also increase humidity, pollen and pollution, which can lead to symptom flare-ups, so check pollen counts and pollution levels before heading outside.
In cold weather, keep warm and remember that breathing cold air can affect your airways. Take steps to avoid catching a cold or the flu – wash your hands regularly when in public places. Speak to your GP or nurse about having the flu jab.
Make sure you understand COPD and the choices you can make to manage the condition. Explore COPD Choices to find resources on living with the condition, advice and links to other great sources of information.
Having a clear picture of how COPD is affecting you is really important to help you and your healthcare professional to manage your condition.
The COPD Assessment Test (CAT) should be taken every 2-3 months to help you review how COPD impacts your everyday life.
1. Global strategy for the diagnosis, management, and prevention of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 2017 report. Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) 2017. Available online at: http://www.goldcopd.org/gold-2017-global-strategy-diagnosis-management-prevention-copd Last accessed: September 2018.
2. Robinson H, et al. Facilitators and barriers to physical activity following pulmonary rehabilitation in COPD: a systematic review of qualitative studies. Primary Care Respiratory Medicine 28, Article number: 19 (2018) Available at: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41533-018-0085-7 Last accessed: September 2018.
3. Kangovi S, et al. Decision-making and goal-setting in chronic disease management: Baseline findings of a randomized controlled trial. Patient Education and Counselling 2017; 100(3): 449-455.
4. Probst V, et al. Effects of 2 Exercise Training Programs on Physical Activity in Daily Life in Patients With COPD. Respiratory Care 2011;56(11)1799-1807.
5. Ribeiro F, et al. Should all patients with COPD be exercise trained? Journal of Applied Physiology 2013;114(9):1300-1308.