Making everyday choices with COPD
Living with COPD may feel overwhelming at times. Whether you want to focus on your eating habits or discover changes you can make around the house, remember, you don't have to do it all at once. Just take it one day at a time and see how those small changes can add up for you over time. Looking for a place to start? Try some of the advice below.
Pick up a few new habits:
If you're asking yourself what your diet has to do with COPD, the answer is plenty! A few adjustments to your eating habits may actually help you breathe and feel better. Here are some suggestions:
- Watch the salt because eating too much of it may cause you to retain excess water, making breathing more difficult.
- If you get short of breath while eating or just after, consider five or six small meals a day instead of three large ones.
- If you get short of breath while eating or just after, eat while sitting up to lessen pressure on your lungs.
- Avoid foods that can cause gas and a bloated abdomen—two things that can make breathing uncomfortable. Carbonated beverages, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cabbage may be on that list.
- If you get short of breath while eating or just after, don't rush—eat and chew slowly.
Do you avoid exercise because you're short of breath at times? The fact is that regular exercise can be very beneficial for people living with COPD. It may:
- Improve your circulation, help your body use oxygen better, and decrease your level of breathlessness
- Strengthen your heart and cardiovascular system
- Lower your blood pressure
- Boost your energy level
- Help you feel more relaxed
We're not talking about training for a marathon here. Exercise can be some simple stretches, walking around your neighborhood, or climbing the stairs in your home. If you're anxious about becoming short of breath while exercising, try pursed-lip breathing and always make sure you have a place to sit down nearby.
You should definitely check in with your doctor before starting any exercise program. You may want to work with a physical or respiratory therapist on developing a plan that works for you.
Here's your room-by-room guide to adjustments that may help you manage your COPD symptoms and conserve your energy throughout the day.
Enjoy traveling? Having COPD is no reason to stop, but here are a few things to keep in mind before you hit the road:
- Keep your healthcare provider's phone number and a list of current medications with you at all times.
- Always pack your medication in your carry-on bag in case your luggage gets lost in transit.
- Traveling by car? Keep the air conditioner on and the windows closed to limit your exposure to air pollution and vehicle fumes.
- If staying in hotels or motels request a first- or ground-floor unit so you won't be carrying luggage too far.