Living with COPD


There are over 3 million people in the UK live with COPD. COPD affects people not just physically but mentally, emotionally and socially too.
If you are affected by COPD, here are some tips to help you manage your condition:

Be active

It’s very important to stay as active as possible, not only to keep a healthy weight but regular exercise can help to manage your breathlessness, reduce flare-ups and creates opportunities to meet new people. There are pulmonary rehabilitation classes that your doctor can refer you to so that you can exercise with other patients suffering from similar conditions. Even just walking everyday can help, but there is no reason that patients cant keep on doing the activities they used to do before their diagnosis whether it be swimming, cycling or running.

Talk to others

Having a long-term illness can put a strain on your relationships. Constantly battling with your breathing can lead to depression and constant tiredness and your partner or carer can feel frustrated and anxious watching it happening to you. Talking to each other and being open about how you feel is important, it can help put others at ease. Even if you need to ask to have some alone time. There are also many forums and support groups that you can join so you can talk to other COPD and get advice and tips and make you feel less isolated.

Take things slowly and plan ahead

It’s important to take things slowly, pace yourself and plan ahead for each day. From when you wake up you need to think about how best to conserve your energy, still remain active and think about whether there will be any factors during the day that could induce a flare-up such as over-exertion, pollen or heat. Certain times of the day make some activities easier and there are gadgets and handy tips that can help make daily tasks a lot easier to manage. It is important to know how your body might react to different activities or situations so that you can plan and prepare for moments of breathlessness. Planning may sound time-consuming or boring but in the long-run it will make your life easier and even help to improve your condition.

Regular reviews

As COPD is a long term condition and monitoring your condition is very important to ensure you are getting the best help and medication to help ease your condition. You should ensure you regularly see your doctor and you should get regular help and advice from a health care professional (HCP). Your condition can improve or worsen over time and your HCP can provide help, advice, recommend changes to your medications to help support you through out your illness. Occupational Therapists can help adjust your home and lifestyle to best suit your condition and improve your quality of life.

Look after your oxygen

If you have been prescribed oxygen then it is important to understand your equipment and prescription. Make sure you know how to use and maintain your oxygen equipment, ask your oxygen supplier if you are unsure or if you think you need different equipment to make your life easier. Ensure you follow safety guidelines around oxygen as it can be dangerous and follow safety tips around using the equipment at home to avoid trips and falls. Ensure that you have regular appointments with your doctor to ensure your prescription remains correct and let your doctor know if your breathing worsens or if you think you may need oxygen at night as well as during the day. Lots of tips and advice surrounding the use of oxygen and oxygen equipment can be found on various websites including the NHS, British Lung Foundation and Oxygen Worldwide, to name a few.


Tips For The Use Of Supplemental Oxygen

Health Tips:
Jogging_Woman_in_GrassImage Reference Female Jogger on Coleman Avunue in Morro Bay, CA 5-2-07 – Photo by Mike Baird Canon 20D 100-400mm IS lens handheld from an outrigger canoe.

Below are some practical tips to aid in improving your health if you need to use supplemental oxygen at home.
1.    Live on the first floor. If you’re moving or if you can alter your home set-up, opt for a bedroom on the first floor as taking the stairs is good exercise.
2.    Buy safe shoes. Whether you’re relaxing at home or getting some exercise, comfortable, supportive, lace-up shoes are a sensible purchase. Wear a shoe that’s going to be good for balance and ensure foot and joint support. Not sandals or flip flops as these are not good for balance or grip.
3.    Pick up clutter. Older people are at a greater risk of tripping over clutter due to a decreased ability to stay balanced but also you should keep walking paths clear so that oxygen cords don’t get tangled up.  Besides clutter, throw rugs are a tripping hazard and should be removed.
4.    Walk slowly and steadily rather than quickly or at various speeds. Pacing yourself can help retain both your energy and your stamina.
5.    Do necessary tasks and harder chores at whatever time of day you feel is your best breathing time, so you may need to adjust and do certain activities at new times.
6.    Rest when you NEED to rest and don’t force yourself to overdo things.
7.    Buy yourself a grabbing device for picking up things from the floor and for reaching items on high shelves. Activities that require you to bend over or to raise your arms above your head will make you more short of breath.
8.    Use water-based lubricants to help soothe your skin. Oxygen may dry out your skin, mouth, or throat so you can use gauze to prevent your ears or cheeks from becoming sore and water-based lubricants on your lips and nostrils to prevent dryness.
9.    Wear oxygen during activities. Many people tend to take off their oxygen when they climb stairs or walk to the post box, but these are the times when your body needs oxygen the most. You can use a portable oxygen pack that you can switch to but return to the concentrator when you have finished your task. If you don’t wear the oxygen then you’ll become exhausted and put yourself at greater risk for injury.
10.    Take your oxygen into the shower. Many people don’t realize that they can wear oxygen while bathing and doing so can help you avoid fatigue while you complete what could be a strenuous task and make it safer, too. You can put a fan in the bathroom as it can be difficult to be closed up in a hot, humid bathroom. Keep the door open if you can, use a fan to blow air out, and crack open any windows to help you breathe easier. You can buy a shower chair, which will allow you to sit down while you bathe, helping you to conserve energy and avoid falls. You can also install a detachable shower head, which is very helpful because you won’t have to hold your arms over your head which is a tiring position that also disturbs your balance in the shower. If it has a long, flexible arm it will make it easier to reach all of your body parts with less exertion.
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