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News > Chronic Disease Management > Living with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

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Living with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Strategies to stay healthy and active

If you (or a family member) have been recently diagnosed with COPD there are things you can do to help manage your symptoms to improve your overall quality of life. Tindale Family Practice has outlined some strategies to help you stay as healthy and active as possible.

Environmental factors

Reducing your exposure to dust, gas, chemical fumes, smoke and air pollution is important – to minimise lung irritation and eliminate a possible cause of your COPD. Your lung capacity is already compromised, so giving your lungs the cleanest air possible reduces the risk of further damage.

Smoking

If you are a smoker it is important to quit in order to keep your lung functional as optimal as possible. Talk to your doctor about giving up smoking as there are Medicare-covered options and medications to help you quit and battle the cravings. Consider using dedicated services such as Quitline (13QUIT) for additional support and information.

Stay within a healthy weight range

Being overweight can affect your energy levels, mobility and increase your breathlessness. On the contrary, being underweight means you have reduced nutrient stores and tire easily and your muscles (including your breathing muscles) can become weak.

To stay in a healthy weight range, you should:

  • Eat a nutritious diet – enjoy a wide variety of foods from the five foods groups every day. Make an appointment with a dietician to talk about specific food choices that will benefit you.
  • Be physically active – aim for at least 30 minutes exercise per day to keep your muscles strong. Talk with your doctor or physiotherapist about what exercise will suit you, there are programs specifically targeted for pulmonary rehabilitation that can improve your lung function and strengthen your breathing muscles.

Look after your well-being

Anxiety is not uncommon in conditions such as COPD. Relaxation techniques such as yoga can help to reduce anxiety and specific breathing exercises can help manage symptoms.

Assess emotional support – enjoy time with family and friends, or if you don’t have anyone close, talk to your doctor about support groups for individuals with COPD. For improved quality of life, keep occupied with hobbies and activities you love to do.

Get good quality sleepgood sleep hygiene will help you improve your chances of getting to sleep.
If you are having trouble with sleep because of your COPD symptoms or anxiety, talk to your doctor about strategies to improve your sleep.

Vaccinations

Ensure you are up-to-date with pneumonia and season flu vaccines to reduce your risk of chest infections, which will exacerbate your COPD symptoms.

Minimise COPD Flare-ups

It is important you can identify early signs of a COPD flare-up, so you can start treatment as soon as possible.

Common symptoms include:

  • coughing more than usual
  • finding it harder to breathe
  • thicker or more sputum (mucus)
  • feeling more tired than usual

If your symptoms change significantly seek emergency medical advice.

Other treatment options

Medicines and inhalers – it is important to take your medicine as prescribed by your doctor, even if you feel well. For maximum benefit, ask your doctor to show you how to use your inhaler and to assist you to get the technique right.

Oxygen therapy – may be prescribed if your COPD is chronic and severe.

If you have any questions about your COPD symptoms or how to improve your general health while living with COPD, make an appointment with your doctor to talk about your concerns.  Ask your doctor to assist with a COPD action plan if you don’t already have one in place.

The Tindale Family Practice has a dedicated chronic disease management unit that incorporates a care coordinator and care team that works with allied health professionals as part of managing the patient’s ongoing chronic disease. If you would like to be part of this program contact the clinic to make an appointment.


References:
https://lungfoundation.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Factsheet-COPD-Sept2018.pdf
https://lungfoundation.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Book-COPD-The-Basics-Sep2018.pdf
https://www.healthline.com/health/copd/breathing-exercises
https://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/~/media/CCI/Mental%20Health%20Professionals/Sleep/Sleep%20-%20Information%20Sheets/Sleep%20Information%20Sheet%20-%2004%20-%20Sleep%20Hygiene.pdf
https://lungfoundation.com.au/patients-carers/get-support/lung-disease-and-exercise/pulmonary-rehabilitation/