One of the first warning signs of COPD is mild coughing with clear sputum, usually after waking in the morning. Other symptoms may also crop up with this progressive disease, including coughing that produces excessive mucus, shortness of breath, wheezing and chest tightness. While there is no cure for COPD, there are some steps one can take at home to manage and effectively ease symptoms, cut the risk of complications, and improve quality of life.
5 Steps to Improve Home Air Quality for Symptom Relief
- The most important step a person can take to reduce COPD symptoms is to stop smoking. 85-90% of COPD deaths are caused by smoking.
- Because people with COPD are very sensitive to indoor air pollution, it is important to purify the air at home. Ventilate the home by opening windows and running exhaust fans. However, when outdoor air quality is poor or dust levels are high, keep windows closed.
- Minimize dust mites by washing bed linens weekly, keeping floors clean and removing dust-collecting clutter from the home.
- Reduce exposure to household chemicals such as paints, varnishes and cleaning products and limit the use of fragrant sprays, air fresheners, scented candles and perfumes.
- Install an indoor air filtration system. Make sure it has a HEPA filter and beware of systems that generate ozone but claim to filter the air.
5 Steps to Improve Diet for Symptom Management
- For a person with COPD, breathing burns ten times more calories than it does for a person without COPD. Eating larger meals early in the day when energy is highest will help a person gain the most calories and nutrients possible for the day.
- Fatigue sometimes stops a person with COPD from eating before he/she gets the calories and nutrients needed. Eating the most nutritious foods first ensures a healthier diet, even if a meal is not entirely eaten.
- Eating smaller, more frequent meals can help a person with COPD meet daily caloric needs and feel less full, making it easier to breathe.
- Preparing meals sometimes uses up so much energy that a person with COPD then doesn’t have enough energy to eat the meal. Instead, have a family member, friend or a home care agency such as LIVE FREE HOME HEALTH CARE help with grocery shopping and/or meal preparation.
- Sodium can cause water retention, which makes it harder to breathe, so it is best to avoid foods that have more than 300 milligrams of sodium per serving. No-salt spices including garlic, oregano, basil, curry, onion, parsley, rosemary and lemon juice are all good alternatives.
According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, an estimated 12 million adults are currently diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and it’s estimated that another 12 million may be living with the disease without even knowing it. It’s also worth noting that COPD usually strikes in middle age, with smoking as the primary risk factor. Consistent exposure to occupational dusts and chemicals also presents a high risk factor.
LIVE FREE HOME HEALTH CARE is experienced at working with COPD patients and their family members to manage symptoms and ensure that the home is a safe environment and free from irritants. In-home care helps sufferers manage COPD through education, exercise, nutritional support, psychological support and coping skills. Call LIVE FREE HOME HEALTH CARE today at 603-217-0149 to learn more about managing COPD symptoms. Click here for more resources on managing COPD.