6 Tips for Managing COPD

6 Tips for Managing COPD

For about 16 million Americans, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) makes breathing very difficult. COPD refers to a group of lung conditions that block airflow, causing breathing problems. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are examples of COPD conditions. While smoking is one of the major causes of COPD, you don’t have to be a smoker to develop breathing problems. 

With COPD, you may feel short of breath, have a hard time taking deep breaths, and suffer from frequent coughing and wheezing. Many of these breathing problems occur because your lungs produce too much phlegm or mucus.

At Gulf West Medical Associates in Port Richey, Florida, our experienced internal medicine physician, Rajesh B. Dave, MD, aka “Dr. Dave,” takes a proactive approach to medicine, focusing on preventive health care. COPD is chronic, but taking steps to control your condition with lifestyle changes may improve your breathing and quality of life. Here are six helpful tips for COPD management.

1. Strengthen your lungs

Pulmonary rehabilitation teaches you different ways to breathe in order to strengthen your respiratory muscles. Practicing different breathing techniques to strengthen your lungs may reduce your COPD flare-ups. Good exercises to try include:

Pursed lip breathing

Pursed lip breathing teaches you how to control your breathing while opening up your lungs. For this pulmonary exercise, purse your lips like you’re going to whistle, and then breathe deeply in and out. 

Diaphragmatic breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing strengthens your diaphragm and lower respiratory muscles. When diaphragmatic breathing, place your hand on your abdomen and then slowly and deeply breathe in, feeling the muscles in your lower abdomen and diaphragm working.

2. Stop smoking

Smoking is the leading cause of COPD. Additionally, smoking and exposure to cigarette smoke triggers COPD flare-ups. Many tools can help you stop smoking. Some of the treatments available include:

Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your COPD. But there’s no need to try and quit on your own. We can provide the tools you need to cut cravings and help you stop.

3. Eat a balanced diet

The food you eat supplies your body with the nutrients it needs to function at its best. This includes lung function and breathing, and the types of foods you eat may make breathing harder or easier.

When your body metabolizes food, it creates waste including carbon dioxide. Exhaling is how your body gets rid of carbon dioxide. Carbohydrate-containing foods — bread, potatoes, and fruit, for example — produce the most carbon dioxide during digestion.

Though it’s important to eat a balanced diet with COPD, you may find breathing easier if you follow a moderate-carb diet. With our preventive health care services, we can help you make better food choices for easier breathing.

4. Get regular exercise

You may have a difficult time working out with COPD because it makes you breathless. However, improving your overall fitness with regular physical activity can make breathing easier.  

There’s no need to engage in high-intensity exercise routines. To get the health benefits without the breathlessness, try walking, bike riding, or low-impact aerobics. 

5. Update your immunizations

COPD increases your risk of lung infections and complications when you have an infection. That’s why we recommend updating your immunizations when you need to, including your annual flu shot. 

6. Visit your doctor

COPD is a chronic condition that requires regular checkups. In addition to annual physical exams, we may recommend that you come in periodically so we can provide the care, monitoring, and treatment you need to manage your COPD. 

Don’t let your COPD dictate how you live your life. We can give you the tools, treatments, and support you need to better manage your breathing. Call our office, or request an appointment online today.

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