Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an umbrella term for a number of lung diseases that can lead to severe disability, and even death. The condition includes emphysema, chronic bronchitis, severe asthma, or a combination of these conditions. Overtime, they cause inflammation in your airways, destruction of lung tissue, and a reduction of airflow that ultimately makes it harder to take in enough oxygen to supply the body.
COPD develops slowly and worsens over time. In the beginning stages, a person with COPD may not have any symptoms. But as it progresses, the condition usually becomes worse, making the ability to breathe and live normally increasingly difficult.
But there are a number of lifestyle changes you can make to slow the progression of COPD and lessen its effects on your health. Here are 8 small alterations to your day-to-day life that can have a positive impact on your COPD. It’s time to start breathing easier and feeling better.
- Clean your house regularly
Dust, secondhand smoke and fumes from paint or other household chemicals are all irritants to your lungs. Cleaning your house regularly can make a big difference on reducing the irritants that make COPD worse. Never allow anyone to smoke in your home, and avoid being around people who do smoke.
- Become more physically active
Always consult with the doctor who manages your COPD first for advice on exercise, but generally, as long as you participate in an activity that’s not too strenuous for you, getting more active is encouraged. The less fit you are, the harder normal daily activities will be. Regular exercise can help reduce symptoms of depression and may even give you more energy.
- Avoid overexerting yourself
Exercise is important, but at the same time, be careful not to overdo it. Going overboard can be dangerous as people with COPD have lower activity thresholds and usually are not able to exercise vigorously. Do physical activities at a slow pace at least three to four times each week.
- Stop drinking soda
Weight gain can be one side effect of consuming soda, but another effect of carbonated beverages is stomach swelling. As your stomach expands, it pushes up against your diaphragm, making it harder to breathe. Choose healthier beverage options such as water, unsweetened tea, green tea or coffee.
- Keep hydrated
Speaking of water, keeping well-hydrated is another crucial component to managing COPD more effectively. Without enough water, your mucus can become thick, sticking to your lung and adding to the burden of being able to breathe well. Aim for at least 8 to 10 cups of water daily.
- Keep calm
A chronic lung condition can be challenging and stressful to deal with in addition to any work and family obligations you may have. If you are feeling an enormous amount of stress, consider joining a support group. Meeting regularly and talking with others who also have COPD can help you feel less alone. Sharing your feelings and experiences, and hearing others’, can teach you better ways to cope with your chronic condition.
- Make healthy food choices
Maintaining a healthy diet is good for everyone, but especially for people with COPD. Eating junk food that is high in calories will cause weight gain, worsening your ability to breathe and exercise. Plus, junk foods are often high in sodium, which can cause fluid retention resulting in congestion that can obstruct breathing. Choose plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, nuts and seeds, beans, seafood, and lean sources of poultry and beef.
- Always take your oxygen tank
Wherever you go, your oxygen tank needs to go too—don’t leave home without it. A low level of oxygen in the blood puts an extreme about of strain on the heart. The mental and physical stress of being low on oxygen and far away from your oxygen tank isn’t worth it, as much as you might miss the easier lifestyle of running errands without the excess baggage.
Dr. Samadi is a board-certified urologic oncologist trained in open and traditional and laparoscopic surgery and is an expert in robotic prostate surgery. He is chairman of urology, chief of robotic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital. He is a medical contributor for the Fox News Channel’s Medical A-Team. Follow Dr. Samadi on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, SamadiMD.com, davidsamadiwiki, davidsamadibio and Facebook
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