Although there is no cure for COPD, there are many ways to help you manage it. COPD severity ranges from mild to very severe. What is needed to manage COPD is different from one person to the next. Here are some of the strategies that can help you take control:
Work With Your Health-Care Provider
- Work with your health-care provider on finding the right treatments for you.
- Ask your health-care provider to fill out a COPD action plan for you. An action plan can help you decide what to do if you think you might be having a COPD flare-up or lung attack (exacerbation).
- Review your COPD action plan with your health-care provider at every visit.
- Ask your health-care provider for a referral to a local COPD education program, pulmonary rehabilitation program, or support program.
- Schedule regular follow-up visits with your health-care provider
Live a Smoke-Free Life
If you smoke, quitting is the most important step you can take to slow the progression of the disease.
- Call The Lung Association Lung Health Information Line to ask a certified respiratory educator for advice on quitting smoking. In Ontario call 1-888-344-LUNG (5864).
- Download or order the Journey 2 Quit workbook to help you on your journey towards a smoke-free life
- Work towards making your home smoke-free. If you smoke, consider quitting or take your smoking outside. If someone else in your home smokes, talk to them about quitting or ask them to smoke outside at all times.
Take Your Medications as Prescribed
- Take your COPD medications as prescribed
- Learn how to use your inhalers properly and check that you are using them correctly at every visit to your health-care provider
- If you have been prescribed oxygen therapy, use it as directed
Reduce Your Risk of a COPD Flare-Up
- Get a flu vaccine every year and ask your health-care provider about getting a pneumonia vaccine
- Use a proper hand-washing technique to reduce the risk of getting an infection
- Stay away from people who are sick with a cold, flu, or other infection
- Try to avoid irritants and allergens that can cause your symptoms to worsen
- Daily exercise is important for everyone including people with COPD. Even if you have severe COPD, you can still exercise – exercise within your limits, and take plenty of breaks.
- Ask your health-care provider for advice on developing a regular exercise routine.
- Ask to be referred to a pulmonary rehabilitation program. To find out if there is a pulmonary rehabilitation program or an exercise maintenance program in your area, go to https://www.lung.ca/lung-health/get-help and enter you province/town OR your postal code and search distance.
Pulmonary Rehabilitation and Exercise Maintenance Programs
What is pulmonary rehabilitation?
Pulmonary rehabilitation teaches people with lung disease many skills that can help to improve exercise tolerance, reduce shortness of breath and fatigue, and conserve (manage) energy. It is also a great way to be in touch with other people who also have lung disease.
What happens after pulmonary rehabilitation?
Some communities also offer an exercise maintenance program that allows people to continue exercising once they have completed a pulmonary rehabilitation program. In some communities, where there is no pulmonary rehabilitation program, a community exercise maintenance program can fill the need to exercise in a safe, supervised setting.
Where can I find pulmonary rehabilitation or exercise maintenance programs?
To find out if there is a pulmonary rehabilitation program or an exercise maintenance program in your area, go to https://www.lung.ca/lung-health/get-help and enter your province/town OR your postal code and search distance.
What is Fitness for Breath?
Fitness for Breath is an exercise maintenance program run by The Lung Association with several locations across Ontario.
Helpful Strategies to Manage Your COPD
There are many strategies that you can learn to help improve the control of your COPD. Strategies include:
- Pursed-lip breathing
- Diaphragmatic breathing
- Reduce anxiety
- Manage your energy
Live a Healthy Lifestyle
- Maintain a normal weight
- Eat a healthy diet
- Maintain social contacts
- Ask for help when needed
Many people who have COPD also have other chronic diseases. These are called “comorbidities.” COPD comorbidities may include:
- Heart disease
- Anxiety and depression
- Lung cancer
It is important to work with your health-care provider in managing all of your comorbidities.
Support for your COPD
The Lung Association’s national COPD program offers practical information and support for people with COPD and for their families and caregivers.
The Lung Association Lung Health Information Line
The Lung Association Lung Health Information Line is a free, confidential lung information service offered between 8:30 am – 4:30 pm Monday to Friday, Eastern time. To speak with a Certified Respiratory Educator, a health-care professional with special training in COPD, call 1-866-717-COPD (2673). After hours, you can leave a message and we will return your call. Our educators will answer your questions about COPD symptoms, diagnosis and treatment, and help you learn about managing your COPD.
Our resources offer plenty of information on how to make living with COPD easier. You can download them or order printed copies by calling The Lung Health Information Line at 1-866-717-COPD (2673).
Groups and Programs
Find a COPD rehabilitation program, support group or education centre near you. Find a lung health support group in Ontario.