6 Tips to Better Breathing with COPD

by Kathi MacNaughton Health Professional

If you smoke, make a plan to quit

Quitting smoking is the best thing you can do for yourself after being diagnosed with COPD. You won't be able to reverse years of airway damage overnight. But you can greatly slow the progression of this disease and improve your health overall by no longer inhaling smoke into your lungs. There is lots of support for people who want to stop smoking. You can find some great quit smoking tips here.

Identify & avoid your triggers and irritants

Certain conditions, substances and situations in your environment can trigger your COPD symptoms and cause flare-ups. Examples might be: cold air, stress or smoke from fires or tobacco. Learn how to recognize what your specific triggers are. Keeping a diary, noting when & where you have symptoms may help. Once you know your triggers, then take steps to avoid them as much as possible.

Learn how to balance activity and rest

It's important to stay as active as you can. At the same time, your energy reserves can quickly become depleted when you have COPD. The solution is to learn how to balance periods of activity with sufficient rest periods. Allow yourself time to do even simple tasks and take breaks when you need to. You'll find more great energy conservation tips in this post.

Learn how to clear your airways

Mucus, a thick secretion that builds up and blocks already narrowed airway passages, can not only make it hard to breathe, but is also a breeding ground for infection. So, learning how to clear your airways can make it easier to breathe. It can also help you stay healthier. Drinking enough water and learning how to cough effectively are two ways to keep your airways clear. Get more info on those and other methods here.

Take your medicine as prescribed

Medication is an important component of the treatment plan for people who have COPD. COPD medicines come in oral (pill) form, in inhalers and in nebulizer formats. Make sure you know exactly what you are supposed to take, when to take it, and how to use any devices properly. Taking the right medicines correctly can expand your airways, lessen symptoms and prevent flare-ups.

Talk to your doctor about supplemental oxygen

People who have COPD don't always get enough oxygen by breathing room air. Supplemental oxygen can help you feel better, sleep more peacefully, feel less anxious, be more mentally alert and endure activity better. Studies show that people often wait far too long before they go on oxygen. Take a proactive step by talking to your doctor about the right time for you to add supplemental oxygen to your care.

Kathi  MacNaughton
Meet Our Writer
Kathi MacNaughton

Kathi is an experienced consumer health education writer, with a prior career in nursing that spanned more than 30 years — much of it in the field of home health care. Over the past 15 years, she's been an avid contributor for a number of consumer health websites, specializing in asthma, allergy, and COPD. She writes not only as a healthcare professional, but also as a lifelong sufferer of severe allergies and mild asthma, and as a caregiver for her mother with COPD.