There’s no denying that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) changes your life. It becomes harder to breathe and more challenging to exercise. It may even cause some emotional problems as you learn to cope with flare-ups and limitations.
If COPD is taking control of your life, we invite you to come see Dr. James Lee and our team here at Woodstock Family Practice & Urgent Care in Woodstock, Georgia.
Dr. Lee helps you manage COPD and monitors your symptoms in light of your overall health. As a family practitioner, he cares for every aspect of your wellness, which gives him an ideal perspective for treating your COPD and other health concerns at the same time.
You play an important role in your COPD management plan too, so we’ve compiled this list of ways you can reduce the frequency and intensity of your COPD flare-ups and address other related symptoms as well.
Protect your lungs
If you have COPD, your lungs are already compromised, so it’s critical that you do all you can to avoid further damage. Since everything you breathe comes into direct contact with your lung tissue, do your best to avoid inhaling harmful substances.
Smoking is the most obvious culprit, so if you smoke, quit. If you live or work with a smoker, ask them to smoke outdoors, so you don’t breathe in what they’re breathing out.
Airborne chemicals can also trigger a COPD flare-up, so if you work in an environment that exposes you to lots of fumes, make sure you wear a protective mask or talk to your supervisor to find out what measures they take to minimize the health and safety risks.
Another problem is dust and wood smoke. Again, if your job involves breathing in air filled with particles of dust, dirt, smoke, soot, or chemicals, take steps to minimize the amount you breathe in.
Protect your health
Because COPD has damaged your lung tissue, you’re more susceptible to upper respiratory infections. Even a common cold can progress into something more serious very quickly. That means you need to be diligent about handwashing and keeping hand sanitizer handy everywhere you go.
Avoid sick people, and don’t mingle in crowds during cold and flu season. We can also make sure you get a flu and pneumonia shot every year.
Eat the right foods
Metabolism is the process that changes the food you eat into fuel your body can use as energy. It uses what it needs, then sends the rest out as waste.
Breathing is part of metabolism too. You inhale fresh oxygen, your body uses what it needs, and the rest (carbon dioxide) goes out as waste when you exhale.
Here’s how your diet plays a role in your COPD management.
When you eat meals high in carbohydrates, you produce a lot of carbon dioxide compared with the amount of oxygen you use. Fat, on the other hand, produces much less carbon dioxide. This means that a diet low in carbs but high in fat may help you breathe more easily.
That doesn’t mean you should eliminate all carbs, only simple carbs, like sugar, pastries, and soft drinks. When you do eat carbs, choose whole grains, fruits, and veggies.
When it comes to fats, stick with mono- and polyunsaturated fats that are liquid at room temperature, and stay away from butter, lard, and fried foods.
Engage in COPD-friendly exercise
Exercise can seem scary when you have COPD, but it’s essential for your overall health, and it can even help improve your COPD symptoms. Many of our COPD patients report that the right type and amount of exercise improves their:
- Sleep quality
- Muscle strength
- Stress levels
- Cardiovascular health
- Breathing difficulties
Dr. Lee can help you choose activities that deliver the most benefits while keeping you and your lungs safe.
Get emotional support
Like any chronic condition, COPD can take a toll on your mental and emotional health. It’s normal to feel a wide range of emotions related to your condition, including anger, fear, sadness, and worry. If those feelings persist, they may develop into anxiety and depression.
Failing to effectively manage these mental health issues can interfere with your ability to care for yourself, which may include missed medication doses, an isolated and sedentary lifestyle, and more frequent and intense COPD flare-ups.
Dr. Lee can help you manage both your mood disorders and your COPD by providing you with the proper resources to get professional and group support, as well as medications when necessary.
If you’re living with COPD, come see Dr. Lee for comprehensive care that covers you from head to toe and helps you keep your COPD symptoms under control. Call us for an appointment or book one online today.