What is COPD?
COPD stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. As the term ‘chronic’ suggests, this is a long-term or recurring condition that makes it difficult for the sufferer to empty air from their lungs due to the narrowing of the airways. COPD is the second most common lung disease in the UK, affecting around 2% of the population.
For more information on COPD you can visit the British Lung Foundation website.
What is it like to live with COPD?
COPD can be a very restrictive disease, symptoms vary between patients but the most common issue is difficulty to breathe, or shortness of breath. Some sufferers have likened this to trying to breathe through a straw that has been scrunched up. Breathing can be very labouring, and this can make the sufferer feel exhausted.
Other symptoms of the condition include a mucusy cough, wheezing and chest pain. This can make every day tasks like eating or exercising very difficult, and makes it tricky to plan ahead as a worsening of symptoms can mean that sufferers simply need to rest and recuperate. This means it is not always easy to live a ‘normal’ life, which can cause emotional effects as well as physical.
What can COPD sufferers do to live well?
Be as active as you can: It is important that COPD sufferers remain as active as possible, and try to maintain a healthy weight. By trying to keep the lungs as healthy and your weight down, you will be able to manage your breathlessness, which in turn can reduce the frequency of flare-ups.
Keep warm: Cold weather can aggravate your symptoms so try to avoid going out in wintery conditions when you can help it. If you do need to go out, wrap up warm – especially around your chest, and try to keep a scarf across your mouth to prevent cold air from getting into your lungs.
Quit smoking: Smoking is one of the most damaging things you can do for your health, particularly if you suffer with COPD. If you need support to quit smoking, seek advice from your GP or visit the NHS Quit Smoking website.
Rest: Getting enough rest and sleep is very important to help your body repair and recuperate. COPD symptoms can make sleeping difficult so give yourself the best possible chance of sleep by employing a few sleep-friendly tactics: avoid caffeine after 5pm, try to exercise regularly, avoid stimulating activities in the 2 hours before bedtime and try to keep to a consistent bedtime each night to train your body to know when to sleep.
Protect against infections: COPD sufferers have a higher chance of developoing lung infections. There are vaccinations available to help protect you, such as the annual flu jab, and the one-off Pneumococcal Vaccine. Also make sure to wash your hands regularly to avoid and prevent the spread of germs and infections.
Administer your meds correctly: Managing your medication correctly will help you to go about every day life without it causing unnecessary disruption. Incorporating your medication into your normal daily routine can make the task feel less obtrusive. The Kinetik Wellbeing Respiratory Therapy Range is designed to help control the symptoms of respiratory conditions, and help administer medication as quickly and efficiently as possible, in your own home – so you can continue to get on with the things you want to do.
The Kinetik Wellbeing Compressor Nebuliser (in association with our partners St John Ambulance) offers a powerful High Nebulisation rate (0.3ml/min) to help deliver your medicine efficiently while maintaining a short inhalation time. The nebuliser connects via a USB function so you can use it wherever you prefer, and it’s portability makes it simple to take with you when going about day to day life.
Living with COPD can be a challenge but there are support networks and groups out there to help you manage your condition and still enjoy a happy, healthy life as much as possible. Remember to accept support when it is offered, and be kind to yourself too. Take each day as it comes and don’t feel defeated when you need to have some time out. Looking after your health (mentally as well as physically) is key to managing your condition.
The NHS myCOPD app helps people with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) to better manage their condition.