14 Simple Strategies for Preventing and Managing COPD Flare-Ups

Did you know that, on average, 21% of COPD patients who are admitted to the hospital will be admitted again within 30 days of going home? You might be able to reduce those odds if you follow these 14 simple strategies for preventing repeat flare-ups.

  1. Participate in Pulmonary Rehab –  If you’re not already involved in a pulmonary rehabilitation program, find one that offers education along with exercise sessions to help you adjust to life with COPD.
  2. Stay Hydrated- Staying hydrated can make an enormous difference in your COPD.
  3. Wash Your Hands Regularly– Keeping your hands germ-free can reduce your chances of contracting head colds, flu, and other diseases – all of which can exacerbate your COPD.
  4. Reduce Indoor Air Pollution – Air pollutants can irritate your lungs and lead to a COPD flare-up. Think about sources that may be so much a part of your life that you don’t think of them as pollutants. Chemically based cleaners, and bacteria that breed in moist environments are examples.
  5. Pay Attention to Weather and Air Quality Reports – For most COPD sufferers, both hot and humid weather, and cold and windy weather can exacerbate COPD symptoms. Watch the weather and stay indoors on extreme days.
  6. Clean Your Home or Have Your Home Cleaned Regularly – Dust is a classic air pollutant. Do your best to keep your house clean and dust-free. If possible, have someone else do the dusting and vacuuming; a lot of dust is kicked up into the air during these chores so it’s best if you’re not the one doing them.
  7. Consider Getting A Fingertip Pulse Oximeter – In some COPD patients, the regular use of a fingertip pulse oximeter enables detection of the signs of a COPD flare-up coming on. A red flag indicator of a COPD exacerbation is when your blood oxygen levels dip below 90% at rest.  Speak with your physician to see whether he\/she recommends using an oximeter.
  8. Create a COPD Action Plan – With your physician, create a COPD action plan to help you decide what action to take when you notice signs of an exacerbation.  Getting treatment early can make a difference: shortening and lessening the severity of the flare-up.
  9. Stay On Top of Medications and Vaccines – Take your COPD medications exactly as your doctor prescribes, and be sure to get vaccinated to prevent diseases that can worsen your COPD symptoms.  Flu vaccines and pneumonia vaccines are available – see your doctor.
  10. Prescription medications can help – Several medications routinely used for COPD (both inhalers and pills) have been shown to reduce the frequency of COPD flare-ups. Your doctor will be able to discuss this with you.
  11. Diet Makes a Difference – As with everything else having to do with your health, a healthy diet will help you manage your COPD symptoms and prevent flare-ups. There are some obvious foods to avoid, such as fried food, and some less obvious, like cruciferous vegetables, which can cause breathing discomfort.
  12. Vitamin D – Interestingly, Vitamin D may be important in protecting you from infections. Make sure you don’t have a Vitamin D deficiency, and if you do, take a Vitamin D supplement.
  13. Exercise Regularly – General cardiovascular exercise is very beneficial for your COPD. Consult with your doctor before starting a vigorous exercise program. Also, exercises specifically designed to help manage symptoms, such as pursed lip breathing and diaphragmatic breathing exercise are helpful to some.
  14. Get More Sleep – Sleep is good for everyone: It allows your body to repair itself, it’s good for your heart, it helps your mood, and it helps you maintain a healthy weight. Inadequate sleep can cause your COPD symptoms to worsen and may weaken your immune system, which can cause you to have a flare-up.

An article on the 1st Class Medical website gives many more details for following most of these tips. Click here to read their article.

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