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Published on October 10, 2016

5 tips for living well with COPD

There’s no getting around it. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a serious illness.

breath“But that doesn’t mean you can’t live well with it,” says Donna Raziano, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Mercy Home Health. “In fact, there are many ways to manage your symptoms and slow the progress of COPD.”

Here are five key steps:

If you’re still smoking, quit. Quitting is the best thing you can do to prevent more damage to your lungs. And since quitting isn’t easy, line up support. Talk with your doctor about products and programs that can help you stop your smoking habit. And ask friends and family to encourage your efforts to quit.

Stay away from lung irritants. Try to avoid things that might irritate your lungs, like dust, strong fumes and other people’s cigarette smoke. If possible, stay indoors—with the windows shut—when there’s a lot of pollution outside.

Conserve your energy. Move slowly to avoid breathlessness, and sit down as much as possible when doing tasks. Also arrange your house so that most things you use are at waist level or within easy reach.

Protect yourself with vaccinations. Be sure to get a yearly flu shot. It’s your best defense against the flu, which can make your COPD symptoms worse. Also ask your doctor if you should get a pneumonia vaccine.

See your doctor regularly. And be honest about your symptoms, including how well you’re breathing. If any symptoms are getting worse—or if you’re having new ones—let your doctor know right away.

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