10 Steps to Living Better With Lung Disease

Follow these tips to improve your quality of life (and breathing)

A lung disease like COPD can be a tough diagnosis to deal with, both physically and emotionally, and one that can take a toll on you and your family alike. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to help you better manage the disease and ultimately live longer, too. Incorporating the following into your daily life will help you live life to the fullest extent possible:

Quit Smoking

Quitting smoking is one way to live better.
Quitting smoking is one way to live better. Diane Macdonald/Getty Images

If you are a smoker, quitting smoking is the most important thing that you can do to improve prognosis and your quality of life with COPD. Continuing to smoke contributes to a more rapid rate of lung function decline and is associated with a much higher risk of death in COPD.

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Eat Well (Really Well)

Did you know that people with COPD require 10 times as many calories to breathe as a healthy person? Proper nutrition is an important aspect of lung disease management, not only because it gives you extra energy to get through your day, but it helps you maintain your weight and avoid malnutrition or obesity, both of which are common in people with COPD.

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Get Regular Exercise

Exercise and COPD should go hand-in-hand. Why? Because an exercise program can help you regain a sense of control over your life, increase your self-esteem and improve your overall quality of life. Exercise has proven to be beneficial to thousands of people with COPD, and it can help you too.

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Use Your Oxygen

The air we breathe is composed of 21% oxygen. For most, this is sufficient, but for some, particularly those with certain health conditions which impair lung function, the amount of oxygen that is obtained through normal breathing is not enough. While many people find oxygen therapy inconvenient and uncomfortable, there are many benefits to its use.

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Prevent COPD Exacerbation

A COPD exacerbation, put simply, is a worsening of COPD symptoms which can often lead to serious illness, hospitalization and even death. COPD exacerbations are caused primarily by airway or lung infections and air pollution. Learning how to prevent a COPD exacerbation may ultimately help you avoid one.

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Fight Back Against Insensitive Comments

There seems to be an invisible stigma attached to the diagnosis of COPD, almost as if being a smoker, or having been a smoker, makes a person "deserve" their disease. Indeed, people can make some truly insensitive remarks which, for the most part, aren't meant to hurt you, but are made without the presence of forethought. Instead of letting nasty comments ruin your day, here are some creative ways to deal with them.

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Balance Your Emotional Health

The emotional effects of lung disease can sometimes be unbearable, particularly if you don't have a good support system. Learning how to recognize signs and symptoms of emotional overload is the first step to managing the negative emotions that may come with your lung disease.

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Improve Your Indoor Air

You may be surprised to know that even indoor air can be polluted, sometimes more so than outdoor air. And because many people with lung disease or other chronic health conditions spend a great deal of time indoors, improving indoor air quality is especially important.

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Practice Breathing Techniques

If simple activities of daily living, such as eating or grooming, have you "huffin' and a puffin'," then learning how to get the most out of every breath you take should be an essential part of your COPD action plan.

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Take Time to Enjoy Intimacy

Want some good news? Being diagnosed with COPD does not mean the end of your sex life. Learn to rekindle the flame that once burned so brightly with these tips for enhancing sexual intimacy.

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