How to Care for COPD
0 Comments | February 18, 2015
Shortness of breath – fatigue – mounds of mucus – when you were first diagnosed with COPD, you probably never dreamed the symptoms you were experiencing were related to lung disease. Nor did you expect to be so frightened.
When the diagnosis finally sinks in – and it will – you may begin to wonder how you’re going to cope. Will you give up and just throw in the towel or will you dive in, head first and start fighting? If you choose the latter, consider the following 5 coping tips brought to you by the COPD Foundation:
- Talk to your doctor if you start to feel anxious or depressed. Although these feelings are perfectly normal after being diagnosed with a disease like COPD, feelings of depression and anxiety that last for more than two weeks may begin to interfere with your well-being and quality of life. There are medications for depression and anxiety that can help you manage negative emotions so they don’t become overwhelming and all-consuming. Even if you choose to use them on a temporary basis until you’re able to accept your diagnosis, anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications may help you regain your footing and keep you from the isolation and loneliness that often accompanies the disease.
- Learn everything you can about COPD. Read books, go to seminars and lectures, check out journal articles, subscribe to COPD magazines and publications; empowering yourself with medically-authoritative knowledge is one of the best ways to figure out what’s happening in your lungs, and how you’re going to prepare for the daily challenges of living life with COPD.
- Enroll in a pulmonary rehabilitation program. Not only does pulmonary rehab focus on exercise to build your physical strength, but it also teaches you breathing techniques to help control your breathing. Along with exercises for your body and your breath, the program will shower you with a wealth of education and support. Studies suggest that people who learn about COPD and are involved in understanding their treatment plan are better able to recognize worsening COPD symptoms and take appropriate action.
- Talk to others. In pulmonary rehab, you’ll learn from the experts who’ll share their extensive knowledge about COPD. That’s awesome, but don’t stop there! Join a support group, either online or at a local hospital, so you can stay connected to people who have been there and can provide you with first-hand information about what it’s like living with a disease like COPD. Sharing ideas and receiving (or giving) words of encouragement from people who have gone through what you’re about to go through will make all the difference in the world in how to cope with COPD.
- Stay physically active. This means, whether you participate in formal exercise training or not, you should take steps to improve your physical fitness on a daily basis. Choose a parking space furthest from the entrance of the grocery store. Walk around the mall a couple of times per week. Join the YMCA for a swimming class. A sedentary lifestyle only makes managing COPD that much more difficult. Exercise daily, or at least stay physically active, to improve your overall fitness, strength, flexibility, and peace of mind.
 “Pulmonary Rehabilitation.” COPD Foundation. Accessed January 31, 2014.
 “Pulmonary Rehabilitation in COPD.” WebMD. Reviewed October 26, 2014.