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November is COPD Awareness Month. What does COPD stand for? What is COPD? COPD is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. COPD causes breathing related problems and airflow problems.

What are some symptoms of COPD? A few most common symptoms are coughing and/or wheezing, shortness of breath, feeling like you cannot breathe, and even phlegm or mucus. People who smoke tobacco, people exposed to air pollutants, people with asthma or underdeveloped lungs all are at risk of COPD. If you believe you have COPD, you should talk to your doctor. Your doctor will discuss your health history and will have you perform at least one test, like spirometry, CT scan, or chest x-ray. These options all test your pulmonary function, or your lungs and breathing. Once the doctor receives the results from these tests, he/she will be able to discuss a treatment plan. Even though there is no cure, a treatment plan will help reduce your symptoms. First and foremost, a doctor will recommend that you quit smoking and avoid tobacco smoke and other air pollutants. Another treatment option is medication. Pulmonary rehabilitation is another option, which ultimately teaches you how to breathe better. On more severe cases, there is surgery and supplemental oxygen.

Nutrition can influence your COPD. Food turns into oxygen, carbon dioxide, and energy. Eating foods with less carbohydrates and more fat can help your breathing. Not only what you eat, but also how you sit while eating, how fast you eat, your breathing between bites, and your portion size can all effect your breathing.

You should also implement a moderate amount of exercise into your regular routine. All you need is 20-30 minutes of exercise about three days a week. Look more into pulmonary rehabilitation, stretching, aerobic exercise, and resistance training.

If you also struggle with anxiety, depression, or any other emotional health related issues, it can affect your COPD. Talk to a healthcare professional, take care of yourself, develop coping strategies to manage stress/ anxiety/ depression, connect with others who live with COPD. Through managing your emotional health, it will help gain control of managing your COPD.

As you complete daily tasks, conserve your energy. Pace yourself by taking breaks and resting. Plan and space activities, so you don’t overwhelm your body. When sitting or standing, position yourself upright. Find breathing exercises that help slow down and control your breathing.





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