COPD Guidelines that May Improve Quality of Life

Quincy AdamCOPD Diet, COPD Lifestyle, Diet

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Although chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is progressive and has no cure, you don’t need to give in to it. There is much that you, your doctor and other healthcare professionals can do to help improve your quality of life while living with COPD.

What Does Quality of Life Mean to You?

What quality of life is for you may not be the same to someone else. For some, hang gliding and mountain climbing may be the norm. For others, it may be taking a leisurely stroll or just keeping up with friends and family.

When you have COPD, how well you live will be determined by how effectively you can:

  • Relieve the symptoms of COPD
  • Slow the decline of your lung function
  • Limit the number of flare-ups (exacerbations)

Therefore, you will need to define your own COPD guidelines for your quality of life. These guidelines revolve around aspects of your treatment and include:

  • Lifestyle Changes
  • Medications
  • Therapeutic Treatments

The key is for you to take charge, discuss your goals and objectives with your healthcare professionals. You can work together to set the guidelines that will help you best manage your COPD and live as well as possible.

COPD Guideline #1: Quit Smoking

Quitting smoking is the number one lifestyle change you need to make1. Most cases of COPD are the result of smoking2 And if you continue to smoke, you will continue to damage your lungs and speed the rate of decline in your lung function. If you need help to stop smoking, talk with your doctor about treatment, medication, and nicotine replacement options.

COPD Guideline #2: Eat a Healthy Diet

A healthy diet will help you to maintain the best possible overall health as you face a future with COPD.3 It will reduce the chances of developing diabetes and other health conditions as well as enable you to control your weight. Discuss your diet with your doctor and make sure you eat the right balance of fruits, vegetables, nuts, lean meats and cold-water fish. You also may want to supplement your diet with vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids—all of which may contribute to relieving symptoms of COPD and improving quality of life.

COPD Guideline #3: Reduce Stress and Depression

As you face COPD and strive to manage your disease, you can become extremely stressed and even depressed.4 Exercise, especially yoga, may provide some release from emotional and physical tension, reduce depression and encourage inner calmness.

COPD Guideline #4: Establish a COPD Friendly Living Environment

The more that you can that trigger breathing problems, the fewer flare-ups you may have.5 You may also help to slow lung damage and declining lung function. So, avoid extreme temperatures, higher elevations, pollens, dust, air pollution and cigarette smoke. Also, if your home is damp and subject to mold and mildew, consult with a professional who can help you to reduce the moisture and clean up the problem.

COPD Guideline #5: Take Medications as Prescribed

Medications are a critical component of your COPD treatment.6 They may help control and manage symptoms of your disease (shortness of breath, mucus in the lungs and airways, coughing and wheezing). They may also provide fast relief and rescue during an acute flare-up and help to fight bacterial infections.

Follow all dosage guidelines set by your doctor and consult with him or her regularly as your COPD progresses to adjust your medications as needed.

COPD Guideline #6: Follow Treatments

 There are several treatments that may help alleviate COPD symptoms.

  • Physical therapy may improve both your breathing and quality of life as you develop a regimen of breathing training, exercise, and education to further your understanding of COPD.
  • Oxygen treatment supplements the oxygen in the air and helps deliver more of this critical element to your lungs, blood and body tissues.
  • Natural treatments are becoming increasingly popular. While they are still being tested for efficacy in treating COPD, you may want to explore their potential.

Work with your doctor and healthcare professionals to establish parameters for these COPD guidelines that may help improve your quality of life. They will assist you in ways to quit smoking, follow a healthy diet, reduce stress and create a healthy living environment. Also, your doctor will prescribe the right medication for your condition and discuss with you whether you should explore other treatments.


1 CDC. What Is COPD? http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/diseases/copd.html. Accessed 7.23.16.2 National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. What Is COPD? Accessed 11.11.151.

3 WebMD. COPD Diet Guidelines: Protein, Calcium, Reducing Sodium, and More. http://www.webmd.com/lung/copd/more-essential-dietary-guidelines-for-copd-patients?page=3. Accessed 7.23.16.

4 Chris Iliades, MD. Managing Stress and COPD. Everyday Health. http://www.everydayhealth.com/copd/managing-stress-and-copd.aspx. Accessed 7.23.16.

5 Dennis Thompson Jr. Best Places for COPD Patients. Everyday Health. http://www.copdconnect.com/news-articles/152-best-places-for-copd-patients/portal. Accessed 7.23.16.

6 WebMD. COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) – Medications. http://www.webmd.com/lung/copd/tc/chronic-obstructive-pulmonary-disease-copd-medications. Accessed 7.23.16.