What are do I need to know about living with COPD?

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Answered by: Mala, An Expert in the Living with COPD Category
Getting a COPD diagnosis is very scary for most people. But while it does mean you will need to make some changes to your lifestyle, it's not necessarily as bad as you might immediately think. Here are a few things you need to know about the disease, and about living with COPD that might make adjusting a little easier:

1. There Are Various Levels of COPD

COPD is a very broad diagnosis that covers everything from the early stages of lung damage, right through to advanced stages of the disease. When your doctor first diagnoses the condition, it's always a good idea to find out where you fall on the spectrum. Are you in the early stages, or a more advanced case? This information will be invaluable in adjusting to your new life as a COPD survivor.

2. Preventing Further Damage

The worst news about living with COPD is that it is an incurable disease. That means that there's currently no treatment that can reverse the damage to your lungs.

The good news is that it's entirely possible to completely halt the progress of the disease, and prevent further damage. If you're a smoker, stop. If you work in an unhealthy environment, change jobs. Everything you do to prevent further damage will improve your quality of life and health expectancy.

3. Healthy Choices

Life with COPD is all about learning to make healthier choices.

That starts with changes like quitting smoking, but also extends to all other areas of your life. Healthy diets are very important to people with COPD, as is adequate hydration. Mild to moderate exercise has also been shown to help people with COPD to improve their lung function and breathing capacity.

4. Further Treatment

If you were diagnosed at an early stage of COPD, you might not need medication at first, or at all. However, if you were further along in the disease process, your doctor might recommend medication and other treatments to cope with the symptoms.

In some cases, that treatment may be as simple as a bronchodilator inhaler, similar to an asthma pump. These deliver medications which may include cortisone and other steroidal treatments directly to the lungs.

Various other medications exist that have been found to be effective at various stages of COPD, and in some cases, doctors may recommend using a portable oxygen tank to treat severe shortness of breath, and since your heart is also working much harder because of the lack of oxygen in your blood, secondary treatment for heart conditions may be necessary.

5. Avoid Illness

Finally, if you do have COPD, you need to be aware that diseases like colds and flu will have a much more serious impact. You will want to avoid areas where diseases like this are commonly spread, wash your hands frequently, and head to your doctor at the first sign of any infection or illness.

COPD does force changes in your life, but there are millions of people who have it, and are living their lives every day. You can be one of them.

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