COPD is a chronic, incurable illness. That's a fact. But the good news is, that COPD doesn't mean you have to give up on life. There are many things you can do to preserve your quality of life, no matter how far progressed your COPD is. So, since a new year has recently begun, let's look at some concrete actions you can take this year for your respiratory health.
1. Learn all you can about COPD. The more you know, the better prepared you'll be to take the best actions for your health. This post, 10 Things to Know About COPD, is a great place to start.
2. Form a strong partnership with your doctor. Your doctor is a medical expert, but you are the expert when it comes to how you feel and what is happening with your body. So team up with your doctor by communicating openly, talking over treatment plans and giving your doctor feedback on what is working... and what's not. If you have questions, ask them. If you've learned about some new treatment and wonder whether it would be right for you, just ask. It's your right and responsibility to be proactive about your health.
3. Build your support network. Having any chronic disease can be scary, especially one that can affect every breath you take, such as COPD. You don't have to go it alone! Millions of other people have COPD, and sometimes it can be really helpful to talk with people who truly know what you're going through. But your family and friends can also be a support to you. You have to let them know you need them, though, and tell them how they can be most helpful to you. It might be just a sympathetic ear you need, or it could be something more concrete like someone to help with laundry or grocery shopping.
4. Learn to conserve energy. With COPD, your lungs don't work very effectively, so less oxygen gets to the parts of your body that keep it working. This can result in fatigue and loss of endurance. So simplify your life and modify your home to make things easier. That way you'll need less energy to live your daily routine. Read more here
5. Follow your treatment plan. COPD is treatable. It's not curable, but medication and other treatments can help you preserve your quality of life to a great extent. So talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you, and then follow the plan. Common treatments included inhaler medications and sometimes supplemental oxygen. You can learn more about oxygen therapy here.
6. Use it or lose it. Staying active can be a challenge when your lungs don't work efficiently. But staying active can also help prevent your lungs from forgetting how to work. So don't just sit in a chair all day, get moving! If you can still do so, get outside during pleasant weather and walk as far as you can, even if it's just to the end of the driveway. Any activity will help keep your heart pumping and expand your lungs a bit more. If you can do more, then do so. Just listen to your body, so you know when to rest or to stop.