Copd Treatment Living Coping

Coping with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) cannot be done through medical intervention alone. Self-management of symptoms is recommended for anyone living with COPD.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a progressive disease that cannot be cured. Learning how to cope with COPD helps improve quality of life and reduce symptom severity.

Smoking and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Smoking is a major risk factor for COPD. If you smoke and are coping with COPD, quitting is highly advisable: Quitting smoking can make living with COPD easier at any stage of the disease. Even advanced COPD symptoms improve somewhat after people quit smoking.

Smoke in any form can make living with COPD difficult by aggravating the airways and triggering coughing fits. Second-hand cigarette smoke is an irritant (and a temptation if you’ve quit smoking). Limiting exposure to smoke from fire pits, barbeques and other smoke sources is also recommended.

Paint, Cleaning Agents and COPD

Tobacco smoke isn’t the only airborne fume that makes living with COPD challenging. Fumes from many common products can worsen COPD symptoms. Learning to avoid these fumes is part of learning how to cope with COPD. Fumes that worsen chronic obstructive pulmonary disease symptoms include:

  • air pollution
  • bleach
  • household cleaners
  • insecticides
  • kerosene
  • paint fumes
  • strong air fresheners.

Coping with COPD through Diet

Learning how to cope with COPD may mean making changes to your eating habits. Eating a healthy diet with an abundance of fruit and vegetables helps people lose weight, which, in turn, relieves pressure on the lungs and makes breathing easier.

Living with COPD often means living with reduced strength and endurance. Eating a diet high in protein can help maintain strength. Possible protein sources include:

  • chicken
  • eggs
  • fish
  • meat.

Consulting a dietician can help you determine your dietary requirements.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease causes mucus buildup in the airways. Drinking plenty of water can help loosen mucus.

Exercise and Living with COPD

Living with COPD means you have less energy: Your lungs don’t transfer oxygen to the blood as efficiently as they once did. Even minor tasks can be exhausting when you’re living with COPD.

In spite of this, experts strongly encourage people coping with COPD to exercise. Strenuous exercise may not be possible, but even light exercise improves strength and endurance. Exercise also improves respiratory muscle tone, making breathing easier.

COPD and Medication

People living with COPD often need to take medication to slow the disease’s progression and provide symptom relief.

If symptoms do improve, some people stop taking their medication. This is not recommended for anyone coping with COPD. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease cannot be cured: Medication must be taken consistently or symptoms will worsen.

How to Cope with COPD on a Daily Basis

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease affects all aspects of day-to-day living. Difficulty breathing makes even simple tasks laborious challenges.

Living with COPD may require people to rethink how they perform simple actions and how many tasks they can accomplish in a day. Ordinary tasks take more time to complete when you’re living with COPD: Extra time needs to be planned for cooking, bathing and other ordinary activities.

It’s advisable to find ways to perform tasks using as little energy as possible. For example, if you are peeling vegetables in the kitchen, try sitting down while peeling to conserve energy.

It’s important to remember that family and friends are usually willing to help people living with COPD. Accepting help with everyday tasks makes living with COPD much easier.

It’s also advisable that family and friends know what to do in case COPD symptoms require emergency medical treatment. Your doctor’s name and phone number, the address of the nearest hospital and a list of your medications will help others help you when symptoms worsen.


Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (2007). COPD: Coping Skills. Retrieved July 31, 2007, from the Mayo Clinic Web site:

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (2007). COPD: Self-Care. Retrieved July 31, 2007, from the Mayo Clinic Web site:

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (2007). Living with COPD. Retrieved July 31, 2007, from the NHLBI Web site: