When you have a chronic respiratory condition like COPD, it is important to stay as healthy as you possibly can. Even minor health problems can quickly progress to more serious, and sometimes even life-threatening, issues. Luckily, there are a number of steps you can take on a daily basis to promote the best respiratory (and overall) health possible, given your diagnosis.
Prevention Is the Key to Good Health
It is almost always easier to prevent health problems than it is to treat and cure them. This is true too for people with COPD. Prevent respiratory infections and COPD flareups, so that you never have to try to get better from them at all!
The most common COPD issues that you'll have to deal with are infections. Respiratory infections can cause a significant worsening of your COPD symptoms because your airways are already stressed. Practicing the prevention techniques I outline below is one of the ways you can take action to stay optimally healthy.
1. Eat Healthy
I covered the building blocks of a healthy eating plan in my article on Healthy Eating, Weight Loss & COPD: A WIN-WIN-WIN Combination. When you eat healthy, your body has what it needs to fight infection and other health problems. It can also help you keep your weight in a healthy range, which can lessen the difficulty people with COPD can have with breathing when active.
Eating healthy won't cure COPD, but it will definitely help you feel better and have more enerrgy to get through each day!
2. Learn How to Balance Activity with Sufficient Rest
It's a fact that when you have COPD, you get tired more quickly and more thoroughly. But this tendency to fatigue can be managed by striking a balance between periods of activity and rest times.
Resting throughout the day is important. So is getting at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. Getting good solid sleep at night will help you replenish your energy resources to face the next day.
At the same time, it's just as important to keep moving as much as you can each day. Staying active can help keep your muscles and bones strong and flexible and your airways open and working as well as possible. And that can help you avoid falls and other complications that can force you to be sedentary, which is never a good thing for people with respiratory problems.
3. Stay in Touch with Your Health Care Professionals
Think of you and your doctor as a health care management team that works together to keep you healthy within the limitations of COPD. Be sure to keep your medical appointments, follow your prescribed medication regimen, and keep your doctor in the loop with how you are feeling and how well your treatment plan is working.
Your doctor is an expert in keeping you healthy. But he or she can't do that if you don't communicate. So keep those lines of communication open!
4. Ward Off Respiratory Infections with Vaccines
Everyone who has COPD should get a yearly flu vaccine! It is one of the best and safest preventive measures you can take to stay healthy. Flu shots are usually available in the fall; talk with your doctor about the best time for you to be immunized.