Your doctor gave you the news: you have COPD. There is no cure, but there are things you can do every day to keep COPD from getting worse, to protect your lungs, and to stay healthy.
Having COPD can sap your energy. These simple changes can make your days easier and preserve your strength.
Learn how to recognize and manage COPD flare-ups.
Your lungs need clean air. So if you smoke, the best thing you can do for your lungs is quit smoking. Talk with your doctor about ways to quit. Ask about support groups and other stop-smoking strategies.
Even second-hand smoke can cause further damage. So ask other people not to smoke around you.
You should also avoid other forms of pollution like car exhaust and dust. On days when air pollution is high, close the windows and stay inside if you can.
Your diet affects COPD in several ways. Food gives you fuel to breathe. Moving air in and out of your lungs takes more work and burns more calories when you have COPD.
Your weight also affects COPD. Being overweight makes it harder to breathe. But if you are too thin, your body will have a hard time fighting illnesses.
Tips for eating well with COPD include:
If you need to lose weight:
If you need to gain weight, look for ways to add calories to your meals:
Exercise is good for everyone, including people with COPD. Being active can build your strength so you can breathe easier. It can also help you stay healthier for longer.
Talk to your doctor about what kind of exercise is right for you. Then start slow. You may only be able to walk a short distance at first. Over time, you should be able to go longer.
Try to exercise for at least 15 minutes, 3 times a week.
If you become winded, slow down and rest.
Stop exercising and call your doctor if you feel:
A good night’s sleep can make you feel better and keep you healthier. But when you have COPD, certain things make it harder to get enough rest:
Here are some safe ways to sleep better:
Call your doctor if your breathing is:
Also call your doctor if:
COPD - day to day; Chronic obstructive airways disease - day to day; Chronic obstructive lung disease - day to day ; Chronic bronchitis - day to day; Emphysema - day to day; Bronchitis - chronic - day to day
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. In: Ferri F. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2014. 1st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby Elsevier; 2013:section 1.
Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD). Global strategy for the diagnosis, management, and prevention of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Vancouver (WA): Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD); 2013.
Qaseem A, Wilt TJ, Weinberger SE, Hanania NA, Criner G, van der Molen T, et al. Diagnosis and Management of Stable Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: A Clinical Practice Guideline Update from the American College of Physicians, American College of Chest Physicians, American Thoracic Society, and European Respiratory Society. Ann Intern Med. 2011;155(3):179-191.
Updated by: Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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