All the Resources You Need to Live Your Best Life with COPD
More than 30 resources and tips and tricks to help you live well with COPD
A diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, can be life-changing.
That’s largely because COPD impacts patients in a number of ways — from physical to emotional to even financial stress.
Treatment is expensive, often involving medical equipment and various medications. Doctor’s visits can pile up. Missed work from hospitalizations can also happen.
Many patients living with COPD often change their lifestyle significantly to live healthier, happier lives.
What changes should you make?
We’re glad you asked.
While there’s no cure for COPD, you can manage it and live a longer, fuller life by learning more about your condition.
That’s what this article’s for — to guide you to the right information so you can make informed decisions about your COPD treatment.
We’ve split the resources into three main categories: bronze, silver and gold. This format helps you prioritize resources based on potential impact.
Bronze: National-level support and resources
The following Bronze-level resources are meant as introductory first-stops. Said another way, they’ll help you get your feet under you as you come to terms with your condition.
These national resources offer a bounty of tips, in-depth information and guides for everything from treatment to financial help.
• The American Lung Association (lung.org)
The American Lung Association offers a robust, comprehensive suite of resources that help patients learn more about their COPD and better manage it.
On their website, you can customize a COPD management plan, join various support groups and online communities and learn about the latest research on COPD.
• American Association For Cardiovascular & Pulmonary Rehabilitation (aacvpr.org)
The AACVPR’s website features in-depth information and guides for people living with COPD.
You can learn about a better diet, how to exercise properly and what precautions you should take while traveling.
• The CHEST Foundation (chestnet.org)
From the American College of Chest Physicians, The CHEST Foundation gives comprehensive resources for COPD patients from diagnosis through treatment.
Learn how to detect early warning signs and symptoms of COPD, and also, read about busted myths surrounding the disease.
• American Thoracic Society (thoracic.org)
The American Thoracic Society’s website has information around general COPD awareness, sleep management and critical care.
• Centers For Disease Control & Prevention (cdc.gov)
The CDC has published what it calls the COPD National Action Plan, a document created with input from caretakers, patients, doctors and other organizations.
The CDC says its action plan is “a patient-centered road map for addressing COPD, one of the most urgent health concerns facing Americans.”
Silver: Managing and living with COPD
The Silver-level section is an intermediate resource guide. Once you know the basics of your condition, this section will help you put tips and tricks into action.
Change your diet
The American Lung Association’s online guide to COPD nutrition is full of practical, relevant information you can apply to your daily life. This includes tips for making concerted changes to your dietary habits and routines.
When it comes to nutrition, “most people are surprised to learn that the food they eat may affect their breathing,” the American Lung Association says.
“No single food will supply all the nutrients you need — a healthy diet has lots of variety. You and your healthcare team will work out a meal plan just for you. Meeting with a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) will help you get on track.”
The American Lung Association suggests finding an RDN who specializes in COPD. You can ask your doctor for a recommendation or find an RDN at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
It might seem hard to believe, but it’s true. Physical activity helps your COPD.
“You might feel like it is not safe, or even possible to exercise, but the right amount and type of exercise has many benefits. Be sure to ask your doctor before you start or make changes to your exercise routine.”
Exercise is good for your COPD because it helps your blood circulate and your heart send oxygen to your body. Regular exercise also strengthens your respiratory muscles, making it easier to breathe, and reduces stress.
How should you exercise — and how often?
The American Lung Association put together a physical activity guide to help COPD patients keep a healthy lifestyle.
Generally, the American Lung Association recommends the following activities for COPD patients:
- Aerobic exercise like biking, walking and swimming
- Resistance training like weights or resistance bands
“Getting emotional support is just as important as protecting your lungs and staying active.”
Depression and COPD are often linked.
In fact, one 2006 study found that around 40 percent of COPD patients are affected by severe depressive symptoms or clinical depressions.
What’s more, the study also found that it can be difficult to diagnose depression in COPD patients. This is because symptoms between the two conditions often overlap.
The American Lung Association recommends three potential steps for you to take to help your depression:
- Talk to your healthcare team about your mood
- Take care of yourself
- Connect with others
The American Lung Association also has a Better Breathers Club support group with virtual and in-person meetings.
Other support-style groups you might try include:
- Lung HelpLine — This helpline is open seven days a week and staffed by experienced professionals like registered nurses, respiratory therapists and certified tobacco treatment specialists.
- Living with COPD Community on Inspire — This free online forum is for people facing lung disease and offers you a place to chat with others about COPD.
- COPD360social — The COPD Foundation’s online community, COPD360social, has more than 47,000 members. It offers inspirational stories and tips from other people who have COPD.
- Living with COPD — This peer-to-peer online support group allows you to share your own experiences in managing COPD.
- My COPD Team — This social network includes personal stories, questions and answers and a searchable provider directory.
The online social network Facebook also offers several support groups for COPD patients. For most of these groups, you’ll ask to join and a moderator will approve you.
Here are a few COPD Facebook support groups to check out:
COPD caregivers aren’t alone either.
Here are a few organizations and online communities that offer support for caregivers:
Gold: Take action, talk to your doctor
You’re now in a great spot when it comes to knowing how to live healthy and manage your life with COPD. But we’re not done yet.
There’s a crucial step to get that gold level, and it’s one that many COPD patients don’t take often enough: talking to your doctor.
This should be an ongoing, honest conversation between you and your doctor. It should cover a range of topics.
Because after all, the more you know about managing COPD and taking the proper steps to live better, well, the better off you’ll be.
Let’s start with some baseline questions to ask your doctor:
- How did I get COPD?
- What type of COPD do I have?
- What should I make of my testing results?
- How do I improve the health of my lungs?
- What stage of progression is my COPD?
- Am I using my equipment and taking my medication properly?
By now, you should have a better, clearer understanding of the resources available for COPD patients. And you should also know the steps to take to learn more about life with COPD.
Remember: These conversations with your doctor should be open, two-way discussions about your health and managing COPD.
Talking to your doctor can be intimidating. We’ve put together a quick guide to help you start a conversation about prescription costs.Learn More
This article is intended for informational purposes only and not intended to be medical advice, nor does it replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any healthcare questions, please seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call your physician or dial 911 immediately.
References in this article to any specific product, service, or website are for informational purposes only and does not constitute and endorsement or recommendation.
Rob Mixer is a writer and content marketer based in Columbus, Ohio. He has nearly 10 years of experience in professional sports and advertising, with clients such as Root Insurance, Ashcroft, Club Car, The Athletic and more.
Carl Filer is a graphic designer and illustrator based in Columbus, Ohio. Carl has worked with brands such as Netflix, Ford, Hilton Hotels and more.
This article was last updated September 22, 2020