Coping with COPD

Managing COPD can feel overwhelming at times. These tips can make it easier for you to cope:

  1. Stay Connected

    Join a COPD support group. Support groups can be found online as well as in your local community. People who are successfully coping with COPD are eager to listen to your concerns and share useful health and lifestyle tips.

  2. Exercise

    COPD can trap you in a downward spiral of inactivity. It starts by COPD making you feel breathless and tired. Being tired leads to inactivity that can weaken your heart and lungs... causing you to feel even more breathless.

    Regular exercise interrupts this cycle. You don't need to start with anything difficult or strenuous. Your exercise can begin as simply as walking outside for a breath of fresh air.

    Talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise program.

  3. Reach a healthy weight

    Ask your doctor what your healthy weight range should be. The extremes of underweight or overweight are especially unhealthy for people with COPD.

    If you are overweight:

    Excess fat around the stomach can press on your diaphragm, making breathing more difficult. Consider reducing excess weight by avoiding high-calorie food and drinks. A certified dietician can help you choose healthy, nourishing foods. Getting regular physical activity will also help.

    If you are underweight:

    Not getting enough calories (food energy) leads to tiredness and shortness of breath. If you need more energy, try ready-to-eat high calorie foods combined with nutritional supplements. You can also try eating frequent small meals instead of 3 large meals each day. Or ask your doctor to refer you to a certified dietitian.

  4. See your doctor regularly

    COPD is a chronic condition that can get worse over time. Regular visits to the doctor can help you make sure you are on an appropriate treatment plan for your COPD. To get the most from your visit:

    • Bring your COPD symptom tracker if you're using one.
    • Bring a copy of your COPD Action Plan* to each visit. You should update your action plan at least twice a year. If you don't have a COPD Action Plan™*, download and print the PDF, and ask your doctor to help you fill it in.
    • At each visit, ask your doctor if anything has changed with your COPD and whether your treatment needs to be adjusted.


*© 2013 Canadian Thoracic Society

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