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Living Your Life
If you have COPD, you can take steps to feel better and slow the damage to your lungs:
- Control your breathing. Talk to your doctor or respiratory therapist about techniques for breathing more efficiently throughout the day. Also be sure to discuss breathing positions and relaxation techniques that you can use when you're short of breath.
- Clear your airways. In COPD, mucus tends to collect in your air passages and can be difficult to clear. Controlled coughing, drinking plenty of water and using a humidifier may help.
- Exercise regularly. It may seem difficult to exercise when you have trouble breathing, but regular exercise can improve your overall strength and endurance and strengthen your respiratory muscles.
- Eat healthy foods. A healthy diet can help you maintain your strength. If you're underweight, your doctor may recommend nutritional supplements. If you're overweight, losing weight can significantly help your breathing, especially during times of exertion.
- Avoid smoke. In addition to quitting smoking, it's important to avoid places where others smoke. Secondhand smoke may contribute to further lung damage.
- Pay attention to frequent heartburn. Constant heartburn can indicate gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a condition in which stomach acid or, occasionally, bile flows back into your food pipe (esophagus). This constant backwash of acid can aggravate COPD, but treatments for GERD can help. Talk to your doctor if you have frequent heartburn.
- See your doctor regularly. Stick to your appointment schedule, even if you're feeling fine. It's important to steadily monitor your lung function.