You can do things every day to keep COPD from getting worse, protect your lungs, and stay healthy.
Walk to build up strength:
Ask the provider or therapist how far to walk.
Slowly increase how far you walk.
Avoid talking if you get short of breath when you walk.
Use pursed lip breathing when you breathe out, to empty your lungs before the next breath.
Things you can do to make it easier for yourself around the home include:
Avoid very cold air or very hot weather
Make sure no one smokes in your home
Reduce air pollution by not using the fireplace and getting rid of other irritants
Eat healthy foods, including fish, poultry, and lean meat, as well as fruits and vegetables. If it is hard to keep your weight up, talk to a provider or dietitian about eating foods with more calories.
Surgery may be used to treat COPD. Only a few patients benefit from these surgical treatments:
Surgery to remove parts of the diseased lung, which can help less-diseased parts work better in some patients with emphysema
Lung transplant for a small number of very severe cases
You can ease the stress of illness by joining a support group. Sharing with others who have common experiences and problems can help you not feel alone.
COPD is a long-term (chronic) illness. The disease will get worse more quickly if you do not stop smoking.
If you have severe COPD, you will be short of breath with most activities. You may be admitted to the hospital more often.
Talk with your provider about breathing machines and end-of-life care as the disease progresses.
With COPD, you may have other health problems such as:
Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if you have a rapid increase in shortness of breath.
Not smoking prevents most COPD. Ask your provider about quit-smoking programs. Medicines are also available to help you stop smoking.
Anderson B, Conner K, Dunn C, et al. Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement. Diagnosis and Management of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). 9th edition. Updated March 2013. https://www.icsi.org/_asset/yw83gh/COPD.pdf. Accessed July 21, 2015.
Celli BR, Zuwallack RL. Pulmonary rehabilitation. In: Broaddus VC, Mason RJ, Ernst JD, et al, eds. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 105.
Han MK, Lazarus SC. COPD. In: Broaddus VC, Mason RJ, Ernst JD, et al, eds. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 44.
Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, MHS, Associate Professor of Medicine, Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.