Every breath can be difficult especially if you are living with a condition like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Your everyday life can take a hit when you have to constantly struggle with breathing. Shortness of breath can make even the simplest of chores difficult to accomplish. There is no known cure for this condition, but you can inculcate a few habits into your life to make this condition easier to live with.
1. Live A Simple Life
When you are living with a difficult condition like COPD, the best thing to do is to cut out all the unnecessary complexities. Opt for a simple life. And you can achieve that by managing your life better. Plan all your chores beforehand and spread them over the span of a week. This will allow you to accomplish all your chores without stressing yourself out. You can cook simple meals that require less energy to cook. And if you are feeling strong and planning to cook a lavish meal, then store away some for later use. Before you start working on a chore, analyze all its steps and use smart execution to get it done. If you start experiencing shortness of breath, then take a break and regain your strength before you go into it again.
2. Exercise Moderately
Exercising can seem counterproductive if you have COPD and associated symptoms like shortness of breaths. But it can have a healing effect on your lungs and muscles. It can strengthen the muscles which would allow you to use more oxygen. Walking and cycling are two great exercises that can keep you in a great shape, both inside and out. Stretching and working out with light weights can also help you in strengthening yourself from inside.1
3. Practice Breathing Exercises
Breathing exercises can greatly help in alleviating the symptoms of this condition. It has been found out that pursed-lips breathing in which you are supposed to exhale with your lips closed is very effective.2 Diaphragmatic breathing is another technique that is recommended for people living with COPD, but it has been found to be counterproductive in some cases.3 So, the right thing to do is to consult with your doctor and figure out a technique that works best for you.
4. Learn Ways To Clear Your Lungs
Accumulation of mucus in the chest is one of the reasons why you feel breathless. So, you need to take precautions to make sure your lungs clear. The presence of mucus in the lungs reduces their ability to process oxygen and thus, creates a sensation of breathlessness. According to the pulmonologist and chair of the National Lung Health Education Program, Dr. Brian W. Carlin, you should keep yourself hydrated and use prescribed medications to help yourself to be mucus-free. Postural drainage and chest physiotherapy techniques like forced expiratory technique (FET) have been found to be effective in clearing mucus from the lungs of the patients of COPD.4 But you should consult with your doctor before you zero in on a technique.
5. Learn To Relax
This is another important skill that you should focus on achieving. Anxiety and stress can only make things worse for you when you get a pulmonary attack. Shortness of breath is a symptom that is common for both anxiety and COPD. So, it would be difficult for you to control it if you don’t learn to relax yourself. You can try yoga, meditation, breathing retraining and relaxation CDs to calm yourself. If you can master the technique of relaxing yourself, then you can really restore yourself to your normal state.5
6. Educate And Prepare Yourself
Self-care is very important if you want to lead a normal and healthy life regardless of the condition you are dealing with. And the best way to do that is to combine education, rehabilitation along with regular health check ups. You can learn as much as you can about your condition, but make sure to not throw yourself into an abyss of sadness while doing that. You need to remember that the purpose behind your research is to take better care of yourself. So, read everything but with a sense of objectivity. You can enroll yourself in pulmonary rehabilitation programs to learn more about your condition and ways to manage it better. Prepare yourself as preparation can help you to deal with situations better.
7. Give Yourself Enough Rest
Accept the limitations that come with this condition and allow yourself to rest as and when required. Eat healthy food but eat smaller meals through out the day to have better digestion as gas build up in the stomach can put pressure on your lungs. Also, you should steer clear from smoke completely, even if it is second-hand. Take good care of yourself and you will be able to live a healthy and happy life.
Inculcate these changes into your life and hopefully, they will bring a positive change in your life.
|↑1||Garcia-Aymerich, Judith, Peter Lange, Marta Benet, Peter Schnohr, and Josep M. Antó. “Regular physical activity reduces hospital admission and mortality in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a population based cohort study.” Thorax 61, no. 9. 2006.|
|↑2||Spahija, Jadranka, Michel de Marchie, and Alejandro Grassino. “Effects of imposed pursed-lips breathing on respiratory mechanics and dyspnea at rest and during exercise in COPD.” CHEST Journal 128, no. 2. 2005.|
|↑3||Gosselink, R. A., Robert C. Wagenaar, Hans Rijswijk, Anthony J. Sargeant, and M. L. Decramer. “Diaphragmatic breathing reduces efficiency of breathing in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.” American journal of respiratory and critical care medicine 151, no. 4. 1995.|
|↑4||Olseni, L., B. Midgren, Y. Hörnblad, and P. Wollmer. “Chest physiotherapy in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: forced expiratory technique combined with either postural drainage or positive expiratory pressure breathing.” Respiratory medicine 88, no. 6. 1994.|
|↑5||Renfroe, K. L. “Effect of progressive relaxation on dyspnea and state anxiety in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.” Heart & lung: the journal of critical care 17, no. 4. 1988.|