7 Home Strategies to Keep COPD Under Control
Living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can be difficult, especially on days when you’re struggling more than usual because of symptoms. No need to be afraid as there are COPD self-management tips you can follow while at home to feel secure even with COPD.
Cigarette smoke (whether from cigarettes or e-cigarettes) can irritate your lungs’ airways, trigger inflammation, and significantly affect how much air goes in and out of these vital organs.
Furthermore, a 2012 study conducted in the U.K. highlighted that smoking led to reduced lung function, higher death risk, and worsened symptoms among people with asthma and COPD.
Reduce exposure to irritants
Some substances can cause breathing difficulties and worsen air quality. Aside from cigarette smoke, try to avoid or significantly reduce your exposure to these irritants:
- Paints and varnishes
- Chemical cleaning products
- Tobacco smoke
- Dust and pet dander
Enhance air quality at home
Taking little steps to improve air quality can help everyone (not just people with COPD) breathe better. You can achieve this by:
- Opening your windows for increased airflow
- Investing in an air filtration system and having them regularly cleaned to avoid mold and mildew growth
- Constant vacuuming and decluttering to prevent dust build-up
- Cleaning bed linens weekly so dust mites won’t appear
Get enough exercise
Exercise can be an integral part of your COPD self-management plan. Results of a 2016 study showed that exercise may help improve fitness levels and overall quality of life, and lessen symptoms of breathlessness, fatigue, and mental health illnesses like anxiety or depression.
Some exercises to try include interval training, strength training, and water-based exercises such as swimming and aqua walking. But before you suit up, consult with your doctor to know more about routines that are best for your current condition. They’ll duly inform you how to properly execute them so you won’t overexert or injure yourself.
Take control of stress levels
It’s possible for people with COPD to experience worsened symptoms or even panic attacks. At times, panic attacks can sadly lead to breathing difficulties.
As such, find ways to reduce your stress and anxiety levels at home. Yoga, meditation, or breathing exercises like pursed-lip breathing and diaphragm breathing may be good strategies to try.
However, if you’re already overwhelmed and find it difficult to manage your stress levels, talk to a psychologist, psychiatrist, or mental health professional. They can help you understand the potential cause of these distressing feelings and work with you in addressing them.
Ensure your weight is at the ideal level
Constant exercise and a healthy lifestyle won’t just improve your lungs’ ability to function, but also reduce your risk for complications too.
If you’re underweight and have COPD, one study has already linked these factors to a higher death risk. Furthermore, your lungs may also not function properly and you won’t be able to perform exercises well. Overweight people with COPD aren’t safe either, since they may also struggle with breathing difficulties and are more likely to develop illnesses like sleep apnea, diabetes, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Consider supplements to boost lung function
Some supplements may help improve your lungs’ ability to function, as well as your quality of life if you have COPD.
- Vitamin D
- Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Amino acids like L-carnitine
- Vitamins A, C, and E
Before taking any supplement, consult your doctor or a health professional so they can guide you on the nutrient you’ll most likely need and ideal dosage best suited for your condition.
Definitely, COPD management at home is doable when you follow any of these practices. However, remember that these self-management techniques shouldn’t be in any way considered as “cures” for COPD. As always, talk to a doctor or a specialist should symptoms persist, so you’re able to address them immediately and prevent complications.