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Tips for Living with Emphysema and COPD

If you or someone you love is living with emphysema or another form of COPD, there are a number of things you can do to halt the progression of your disease and protect yourself from further complications: A number of lifestyle and home remedies can help you to live the best life possible with your diagnosis.

  1. Stop Smoking
    This is absolutely the most important step you can take to improve your overall health. It is also the only thing you can do to stop the progression of emphysema and chronic bronchitis caused by smoking. Joining a program for smoking cessation or asking your doctor about prescription medicines to help you stop are helpful for many patients. You also need to avoid secondhand smoke, as this is another direct cause of these conditions.
  2. Avoid Respiratory Irritants
    In addition to smoke, the fumes from automobile exhaust, paint, cooking, some perfumes, and even burning candles or incense can further irritate your lungs and airways. You should also change all heating and cooling filters frequently in order to limit inhaled pollutants from your air at home.
  3. Exercise Regularly
    It is important not to let breathing problems keep you from exercising regularly, as exercise works to increase your lung capacity. Increased lung capacity in turn makes it easier for you to breath and reduces many other symptoms of COPD.
  4. Avoid Cold Air
    Inhaling cold air may cause the bronchial passages to spasm, which in turn will make it even more difficult for you to breathe. Be sure to wear a soft scarf or a cold-air mask to cover your nose and mouth before you go outside. This will allow air to warm before it enters your lungs.
  5. Stay Current on Vaccinations
    It is especially important for you to get an annual flu shot and any pneumonia vaccinations that are recommended by your doctor, as any respiratory illness can be particularly dangerous for those with emphysema or another COPD.
  6. Prevent Respiratory Infections
    Because respiratory infections will exacerbate the symptoms of emphysema and other types of COPD, it’s important for you to protect yourself from exposure. Avoid direct contact with individuals who have any type of cold or flu, wear a face mask in public places, wash your hands frequently, and use alcohol-based hand sanitizer as needed. While getting the flu vaccine significantly reduces your risk, you are still not completely protected from all strains of the flu.
  7. Watch for Depression
    The symptoms of emphysema and other types of COPD often severely impact your ability to enjoy daily activities. It is not unusual for patients to become withdrawn and/or depressed after a diagnosis. Be sure to reach out to your doctor for counseling and/or medications if you find yourself struggling with the emotional impact of your condition.
  8. Get Support
    To help you cope with the effect that emphysema and COPD can have on your life, you may want to consider joining a support group. These groups can be a great source of both information and coping strategies that really work. It is also helpful to simply spend time with other individuals who are experiencing the same things you are. Ask your doctor if there is a group near you, or join to find an online support group.

Those living with emphysema or COPD also sometimes need in-home support and assistance. The staff of Specialty Care Services can help. Simply contact us, 24/7 to learn more about our Chevy Chase home care and services in the surrounding areas. We are here for you.


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