Explaining some of the best strategies to safeguard your lungs and keep diseases at bay, Dr Shekhar Jha shared the following tips:

Quit smoking is the best strategy

Quitting smoking is the best gift that we can give to our lungs. Not only active smoking, but we must refrain from passive smoking also. Wearing a mask, especially at a time when AQI is bad can prevent harmful chemicals from entering our lungs. We must refrain from doing exercise when air quality is bad because when we exercise, we tend to breathe heavily, and more dust particles enter deep into our system.

Breathing exercises to keep diseases at bay

Also, to keep our lungs healthy, we must regularly do breathing exercises. Certain types of breathing exercises like pursed-lip breathing and diaphragmatic breathing are specifically good for those who already have diseased lungs. Even for those with healthy lungs, regular balloon blowing and practising diaphragmatic breathing can enhance our resting ling capacity.

Source: www.thehealthsite.com/diseases-conditions/diseases-conditions-lung-disease/breathing-lessons-for-your-lungs-a-doctors-guide-to-keeping-lung-diseases-at-bay-878360/

#pursedlipbreathing #breathingexercise

Just breathe, passionate help for the PF journey

I first learned about pursed lip breathing when I went to pulmonary rehabilitation. This way of breathing reduces the number of breaths you take by slowing your breathing. This keeps your airways open longer, allowing more air to flow in and out of your lungs. It also strengthens your respiratory muscles. Simply breathe in through your nose with your mouth closed and breathe out at least twice as long through tightly-pressed (pursed) lips. I breathe in for a count of two, and out for a count of four. You can use pursed lip breathing when you are short of breath to get your breathing back under control and calm yourself down.

I recently finished a book by Richard P. Brown, M.D., and Patricia L. Gerbarg, M.D., called “The Healing Power of the Breath: Simple Techniques to Reduce Stress and Anxiety, Enhance Concentration, and Balance Your Emotions.” I found it to be very helpful.

Source: pulmonaryfibrosisnews.com/2018/09/05/pulmonary-fibrosis-pursed-lip-breathing-anxiety/

#pursedlipbreathing #breathingexercise

The name of the game is diaphragmatic breathing. This method of breathing deep into your belly is the most effective and healthy way to chamber the air necessary for supporting singing, while leaving your shoulders, neck, and jaw out of the equation, thus relieving tension.

How do you explain pursed lip breathing?

Pursed lip breathing is a breathing technique designed to make your breaths more effective by making them slower and more intentional. You do this after inhaling by puckering your lips and exhaling through them slowly and deliberately, often to a count.

Why is diaphragmatic breathing important for singers?

Diaphragmatic breathing can expel the air stored up and create a better sound. This will allow you to sing more loudly. The more air you have in your lungs, the louder the sound will be. You just have to give it a go.

How does singing improve diaphragmatic breathing?

Learn to Sing: Breathing

  1. Breathe deeply from your lower lungs – imagine a rubber ring around your waist (your diaphragm)
  2. Breathe in and try to push the ring outwards.
  3. Breathe in through your nose and out through your nose and mouth.
  4. Avoid raising your shoulders as you breathe in – keep them relaxed and level.
  5. Relax!

Source: www.wazeesupperclub.com/what-is-diaphragmatic-breathing-singing/

#pursedlipbreathing #breathingexercise

You shouldn’t replace any prescribed medications for alternative treatments, but certain complementary therapies can help you manage asthma and anxiety.

Breathing exercises are a mainstay of pulmonary rehabilitation techniques for lung diseases such as asthma. By retraining the way you breathe, you may be able to improve overall lung function and subsequent asthma symptoms.

The American Lung Association recommends practicing the following exercises each day, for 5 to 10 minutes at a time:

  • Belly/diaphragmatic breathing. With your hands on your stomach, breathe in and out through your nose. Feel how your stomach rises on the inhalation, and falls on each exhalation. Exhale up to two to three times longer than your inhalation. Keep your shoulders and neck relaxed during the process.
  • Pursed lip breathing. To complete this exercise, breathe in through your nose, and then exhale through your mouth, keeping your lips pursed. As with belly breathing, your exhalation should be at least two times longer than your inhalation.

Source: www.healthline.com/health/asthma/asthma-and-anxiety

#pursedlipbreathing #breathingexercise

Most of us don't pay much attention to our breathing: It's essential to our existence, but we tend to take it for granted. Without us even realizing it, our breathing patterns can change as a natural response to our environment, depending on our health, stress levels and even emotions.

But what happens when we breathe with purpose?

Breathwork has recently become so popular that Gwyneth Paltrow dedicated a whole episode to it on her Netflix series, The Goop Lab. The show highlights various techniques, including breathwork, to overcome mental and physical obstacles. However, breathwork dates back to early Hindu yogic breathing practices known as Pranayama. Prana in Sanskrit translates to "vital life force," while Yama means "to control." 

Modern science shows that breathwork can transform your health, and the best part is that it's something anyone can do anytime, for free. Here's what you should know and how to try it at home.

What is breathwork?

Breathwork is essentially controlled breathing where you intentionally regulate the flow of your breathing patterns to change your mental, emotional and physical state. In every breathing exercise, you will be asked to become aware of your breath and how it makes you feel. Its purpose is to create a balance between the mind and body. There are multiple breathwork techniques that you can try, and each one has a specific effect on your body. 

What are the benefits of breathwork?

If you are looking to incorporate new daily habits to help ease stress, anxiety or improve your overall well-being, breathwork may be what you are looking for. People often practice breathwork exercises to help promote mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being

According to one study, breathwork can improve cognitive performance and reduce stress in otherwise healthy adults. The same study found that controlled breathing can potentially help reduce health issues associated with chronic stress. 

Similarly, a systematic review that analyzed eight studies on the effects of breathwork on people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease concluded that patients with COPD who practiced pursed-lip breathing had better endurance during physical activity.

Slow, paced breathing has been linked to:

  • Improved mood
  • Greater alertness and vigor
  • Increased relaxation
  • Less anxiety and depression
  • Reduced symptoms of anger
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Breathwork techniques for beginners

There are many breathing exercises you can do to help you clear your mind, relax and even improve physical endurance. We've compiled a few of our favorite techniques that are perfect for beginners since they are simple, quick and easy to follow.

The 4-7-8 breath: For when you're feeling stressed

The 4-7-8 breathing pattern was designed by Andrew Weil, M.D., and is known for being the "relaxing breath." It's a simple yet effective technique for de-stressing that consists of inhaling for four counts, holding the breath for seven counts, then exhaling for eight counts. Many people use this particular technique to relieve anxiety and attain better sleep.

Weil states on his website that "practicing a regular, mindful breathing exercise can be calming and energizing and can even help with stress-related health problems ranging from panic attacks to digestive disorders."

How to practice

The first thing you want to do is place the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth, right behind your front teeth, and sit in an upright position. 

Then, follow these steps in the cycle of one breath:

1. With your mouth closed, inhale through your nose to a count of four.

2. Hold your breath for seven counts.

3. Exhale through your mouth, making a whooshing sound for eight seconds.

4. Repeat steps one to three for a total of four breath cycles.

breathwork-2

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The box breath: For clearing the mind

Box breathing, also called four-square breathing, is an easy yogic technique used to slow down your breathing. This type of breathing exercise is so powerful that people with high-stress jobs, like the military, often use it to maintain calm when their bodies go into "fight-or-flight" mode. Its primary focus is to distract the mind while you count and fill your lungs with oxygen.

Unfortunately, there aren't many studies around the effectiveness of box breathing since it's a relatively new technique, but there are studies that have found that similar breathing exercises help induce tranquility and increase attention span.

How to practice

Box breathing is one of the simplest breathwork techniques and can be done almost anywhere -- at your desk, in your car or even at a busy coworking space. All you need to do is follow these simple steps.

1. Exhale all of the air in your lungs.

2. Inhale for four counts.

3. Hold your breath for another four counts.

4. Exhale for four counts.

5. Repeat three to four times.

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Alternate nostril breath: For optimal respiratory endurance

Alternate nostril breathing, also known as Nadi Shodhana, is another breathwork exercise intended to soothe the mind and body while managing emotions. This breathing exercise is a pretty common practice in yoga and meditation. Nadi Shodhana in Sanskrit means "channel cleaning breathing." As the name suggests, this technique focuses on breathing through one nostril at a time.

A small study conducted in 2017 analyzed the effects of this type of breathing practice on healthy, competitive swimmers. The study concluded that practicing alternate nostril breathing for 30 minutes a day, five days a week for 30 days, helps enhance respiratory endurance. Even though this initial study showed promising results, further research is needed to expand on the long-term effectiveness of alternate nostril breathing.

How to practice

You can practice alternate nostril breathing by yourself. However, consider asking an experienced practitioner to guide you through your first time to ensure that you are doing it correctly. 

First, sit down in a comfortable position with your back upright, then follow these steps:

1. Place your left palm over your lap and bring your right hand in front of your face. 

2. With your right thumb, close your right nostril. If comfortable, you can place your forefinger and middle finger on the center of your forehead.

3. Close your eyes and inhale slowly through your left nostril.

4. Once you've taken a deep inhale, cover your left nostril with your ring finger and hold your breath for a few seconds.

5. Uncover your right nostril and exhale. 

6. Slowly inhale through your right nostril.

7. Cover your right nostril again (your ring finger still closing your left nostril) and hold for a few seconds.

8. Uncover your left nostril and slowly exhale, pausing again at the end of the exhale.

You can repeat these steps for up to five minutes.

alternate-nostril-breathing

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Belly breath: For when you need to relax

Belly breathing, also called diaphragmatic breathing, fully engages your abdominal muscles, diaphragm and lungs. Contrary to normal breathing, diaphragmatic breathing expands the abdomen when inhaling rather than the chest. Our normal breaths tend to be shallow, but with belly breaths, you slowly fill your lungs with air making the breath deeper. 

Belly breathing creates a deep sense of relaxation, and is closely associated with meditation. Research has shown that meditation may reduce blood pressure and ease anxiety, depression, insomnia and chronic pain symptoms.

How to practice

You can practice belly breathing lying down or sitting in a comfortable position.

1. Place your left hand over your heart and your right hand over your belly.

2. Inhale slowly, filling up your belly with air.

3. Purse your lips and exhale slowly, feeling your stomach contract.

4. Repeat up to 10 breath cycles.

Sitting position belly breathing breathwork

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Pursed-lip breathing: For controlling shortness of breath

Pursed-lip breathing is a common technique used to control hyperventilation and shortness of breath. When practicing this breathing technique, you allow yourself to slow your breathing pattern, making each breath deeper. With pursed-lip breathing, you bring more oxygen to your lungs which helps you relax.

A 2021 study found that pursed-lip breathing may alleviate shortness of breath, help you gain control over your breathing and increase your sense of relaxation. More research is needed to conclude the long-term benefits of this breathing exercise.

How to practice

The first thing to do is sit down in a comfortable, upright position and relax your shoulders. Become aware of any tight muscles around the face and release the tongue from the roof of your mouth.

1. With your eyes closed, inhale through your nose for two seconds.

2. Pout your lips as if you are going to blow a whistle.

3. Breathe out through your mouth for four to six counts.

4. Repeat for five to 10 cycles.

pursed-lip-breathing

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Tips for breathwork beginners

Consult with your health care provider

Breathwork is generally considered to be low risk and safe for most people. However, it's important that you consult your doctor before trying out any new breathwork exercises, especially if you are pregnant or have an autoimmune disease. There is evidence that breathwork could be related to increased heart rate in rheumatoid arthritis and lupus patients.

Research the different types of breathwork exercises

We covered five breathwork techniques that are great for beginners, but there are many others that you can try. Since there are so many methods, classes and even teachers, it's important that you do your research to find the right technique for you.

Find a trusted practitioner near you

After you've decided which breathwork method is best for you, you can look up teachers or practitioners near you or online. Breathwork Alliance is a great resource to use if you are unsure where to start.  

Listen to your body

Once you start incorporating breathwork into your routine, you must become aware of how it makes you feel in different parts of your body. Notice if it makes you feel relaxed, or perhaps, notice pain somewhere you hadn't experienced before. If you have an adverse reaction, pause your practice and consult your doctor.

There are many benefits associated with breathwork techniques, and a big part of that is letting go of any tension you may be holding in your body. Let yourself feel everything and enjoy the process.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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Asthma attack can be quite scary as a person struggles to breath, feels chest pain, tightness with coughing and wheezing. The chronic condition can cause the airways in the lungs to become inflamed which can make it difficult to move air in and out. Watching your loved one go through this extreme discomfort can be difficult but one must act quickly in case of an asthma attack if the symptoms don't get better after taking medication. Apart from contacting your doctor or rushing the person to a hospital emergency right away Dr Harish Chafle, Senior Consultant - Pulmonology and Critical Care at Global Hospital, Parel, Mumbai suggests the following steps that must be taken before an ambulance arrives. (Also read: World Asthma Day 2022: Pollution to Covid; common triggers of asthma as per experts)

How to give asthma first aid

• Make them sit upright comfortably and loosen tight clothing.

• If the person has asthma medication, such as an inhaler, help them take it.

• If the person doesn’t have an inhaler, use one from a first aid kit. Do not borrow someone else’s. The medicine in it may be different than the needed rescue medicine. Also, using someone else's inhaler has a slight risk of passing on an infection.

Use an inhaler with a spacer, if possible

• Remove the cap and shake the inhaler well.

• Insert the inhaler into the spacer.

• Have the person breathe out completely and put their mouth tightly around the spacer mouthpiece.

• Press the inhaler once to deliver a puff.

• Have the person breathe in slowly through their mouth and hold their breath for 10 seconds.

• Give a total of four puffs, waiting about a minute between each puff.

Use an inhaler without a spacer, if necessary.

• Remove the inhaler cap and shake well.

• Have the person breathe out all the way and seal their lips tightly around the inhaler mouthpiece.

• As the person starts to breathe in slowly, press down on the inhaler one time.

• The person should keep breathing in as slowly and deeply as possible (about 5 to 7 seconds) and then hold their breath for 10 seconds.

• Give a total of four puffs, waiting about 1 minute between each puff.

Continue using the inhaler if breathing is still a problem.

• After four puffs, wait 4 minutes. If the person still has trouble breathing, give another set of four puffs.

• If there’s still little or no improvement, give four to eight puffs every 20 minutes until the ambulance arrives, for up to 4 hours. If you are still waiting for help after 4 hours, the recommended dose is four to eight puffs as needed every 1 to 4 hours.

Monitor the person until help arrives.

• Do not mistake drowsiness as a sign of improvement; it could mean asthma is getting worse.

• Do not assume that the person’s asthma is improving if you no longer hear wheezing.

Follow up.

• An emergency room doctor will check the severity of the attack and give treatment, including medications.

• The person may be sent home or stay in the hospital for further care, depending on their response to treatment.

HOME REMEDIES

Here are some home remedies that one can follow in case of asthma attack, suggested by Dr Harish Chafle.

Sit up straight: Sitting up straight will help to open the airways, making it easier for air to move through the lungs. Remaining calm is essential. The body’s natural stress response, sometimes called “fight or flight” mode, can make symptoms worse.

Breathing exercises: The purpose of these exercises is to reduce the number of breaths, keeping the airways open longer and making it easier to breathe.

Pursed lip breathing

- Breathe in through the nose.

- Breathe out through pursed lips. The exhale should be at least twice as long as the inhale.

Belly breathing

- Breathe in through the nose with hands placed on the belly.

- With relaxed neck and shoulders, breathe out. The exhale should last two or three times longer than the inhale.

Don't fall for internet tricks

Many emergency home remedies are suggested on the internet. However, these are usually not supported by scientific evidence.

Examples include:

• Caffeine: Some suggest that caffeine can help to treat asthma, because it is closely related to an older drug. A review of the available evidence in 2001 found that caffeine appeared to modestly improve lung function for up to 4 hours. The authors concluded that a person may need to avoid caffeine before a lung function test. There is no evidence that it helps with an acute asthma attack.

• Eucalyptus oil: Some researchers have suggested that that inhaling eucalyptus oil may help to ease symptoms of asthma. However, no studies have considered the effectiveness during an attack. Keep in mind that eucalyptus may instead trigger asthma symptoms in some people.

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Protecting your lungs is one of the most important things to do when it comes to health. If you haven't been taking care of your lungs, here's a guide to help you out.

Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic unexpectedly wreaked havoc on the world, people have been prioritizing their health. In a bid to get healthier, they are trying to do whatever they want to keep themselves away from diseases. However, they rarely give importance to protecting and maintaining the health of their lungs.

The truth is that, like your heart, joints, and other body parts, your lungs age over time. They may become less flexible and strong, making breathing more challenging. You can improve the health of your lungs and keep them performing effectively even as you become older by adopting certain healthy practices.

Breathing Lessons To Protect Your Lungs

We talked to Dr Ravi Shekhar Jha, Additional Director & Unit Head Pulmonology, Fortis Escorts Hospital, Faridabad, Pulmonology to understand some ways to have better lung health. He explains, "Lungs are one of the unique internal organs that are in constant contact with the outside atmosphere. It is constantly exposed to ambient temperature, humidity and pollutants. It is one of the reasons why lung issues have become pretty common these days. There are ways to deal with it. First, we need to prevent the exposure as much as we can and second, we can enhance the capacity of our lungs so that our lungs handle the situation adequately."

Explaining some of the best strategies to safeguard your lungs and keep diseases at bay, Dr Shekhar Jha shared the following tips:

Quit smoking is the best strategy

Quitting smoking is the best gift that we can give to our lungs. Not only active smoking, but we must refrain from passive smoking also. Wearing a mask, especially at a time when AQI is bad can prevent harmful chemicals from entering our lungs. We must refrain from doing exercise when air quality is bad because when we exercise, we tend to breathe heavily, and more dust particles enter deep into our system.

Breathing exercises to keep diseases at bay

Also, to keep our lungs healthy, we must regularly do breathing exercises. Certain types of breathing exercises like pursed-lip breathing and diaphragmatic breathing are specifically good for those who already have diseased lungs. Even for those with healthy lungs, regular balloon blowing and practising diaphragmatic breathing can enhance our resting ling capacity.

Eat a healthy diet

We should eat a diet which does not cause bloating and acid reflux. Patients with acid reflux have this tendency of having repeated microaspiration, which keeps on damaging the mucosa of our windpipe. Therefore, we should consume a high fibre diet and a diet which is non-spicy and non-oily.

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Asthma and anxiety are both considered chronic (long-term) conditions. Asthma involves inflammation and constriction of the airways, while anxiety disorders cause excessive worries and fears.

Anxiety is technically a mental health condition, but it often causes physical symptoms as well, including breathing difficulties. On the other hand, if you have asthma, it’s possible to experience anxiety about your ability to breathe normally.

In this article, we cover the symptoms of asthma and anxiety, including their key similarities and differences, and what you can do to help manage them both.

When you have asthma, your airways (bronchial tubes) can become inflamed. If you encounter triggers, such as allergens, exercise, or temperature changes, your airways become even more inflamed, making them tighten. This makes it hard to breathe, causing symptoms such as:

Asthma symptoms can also be worse at night, causing you to wake up frequently. Medications for asthma may also cause insomnia.

Anxiety, on the other hand, is a mental health condition. Unlike occasional worries or fears, an anxiety disorder may cause a wide range of physical symptoms as well.

There are several types of anxiety disorders. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is the most common. With GAD, you may experience the following symptoms on most days for 6 months or longer:

  • difficulty controlling fears and worries
  • concentration difficulties
  • restlessness and fatigue
  • insomnia
  • irritability
  • muscle tension

If you have an anxiety (or panic) attack, it’s also possible to experience breathing difficulties. Panic disorders may also cause shortness of breath and choking sensations.

Below is a quick chart to help you determine the key similarities and differences between asthma and anxiety:

While asthma and anxiety are two separate conditions, it’s possible to have both at the same time. A flareup of one condition may also exacerbate the other.

Anxiety-induced asthma

There are numerous possible asthma triggers, including strong emotions such as stress and anxiety. Such strong emotions can change your breathing patterns — with or without asthma. You may even start experiencing faster breathing or breathlessness.

When you do have asthma, any worries, fears, or anger that may be associated with an anxiety attack could trigger breathing problems. You may find that calming breathing techniques, as well as anxiety treatments, could help improve your asthma symptoms over time.

How asthma induces anxiety

On the other hand, asthma may sometimes worsen anxiety symptoms. This may be especially true if you have severe, uncontrolled asthma that’s difficult to manage.

Severe asthma may significantly impact your quality of life. This can cause more anxiety over missing work, school, and regular activities. Such unpredictability in your asthma management may also lead to increased fears and worries over traveling too far from your home and medical equipment.

Additionally, research shows that some people living with asthma may experience limited coping strategies and unhelpful thinking patterns, which may induce anxiety symptoms. Managing mild and moderate asthma may also lead to better anxiety outcomes.

Without treatment and management, anxiety may lead to poor asthma control, and asthma may increase your symptoms of anxiety. It’s important to recognize the differences, while also getting treatments that can help you manage each condition.

Medical treatments for asthma and anxiety

Asthma and anxiety treatments involve different medications. Depending on your own situation, you may need multiple treatments to help you manage your condition(s).

Asthma may be treated with:

Anxiety is treated with a combination of:

Other treatments

You shouldn’t replace any prescribed medications for alternative treatments, but certain complementary therapies can help you manage asthma and anxiety.

Breathing exercises are a mainstay of pulmonary rehabilitation techniques for lung diseases such as asthma. By retraining the way you breathe, you may be able to improve overall lung function and subsequent asthma symptoms.

The American Lung Association recommends practicing the following exercises each day, for 5 to 10 minutes at a time:

  • Belly/diaphragmatic breathing. With your hands on your stomach, breathe in and out through your nose. Feel how your stomach rises on the inhalation, and falls on each exhalation. Exhale up to two to three times longer than your inhalation. Keep your shoulders and neck relaxed during the process.
  • Pursed lip breathing. To complete this exercise, breathe in through your nose, and then exhale through your mouth, keeping your lips pursed. As with belly breathing, your exhalation should be at least two times longer than your inhalation.

Mindful breathing patterns may also help you see improvements in anxiety-induced asthma. If you feel anxiety or stress coming on, consider a 7-7-7 breathing technique, where you:

  1. Inhale for 7 counts (seconds).
  2. Hold your breath for 7 seconds.
  3. Exhale for another 7.

Regular exercise, rest, and a healthy diet may also improve anxiety-induced asthma.

Aerobic exercise may be particularly helpful for anxiety symptoms, but it’s important to choose activities that won’t exacerbate your asthma. Some of the best choices for exercise-induced asthma (EIA) include swimming, walking, and biking.

Asthma and anxiety are both common comorbidities, with each one potentially exacerbating the other. Still, it’s important to recognize the key differences between these two separate conditions for better management, and so you know when to get treatment.

Anxiety can lead to breathing difficulties, making your asthma symptoms worse. At the same time, uncontrolled asthma symptoms can increase stress about your ability to breathe, possibly leading to long-term anxiety.

If you suspect you have asthma, anxiety, or both, talk with your doctor about your symptoms and a treatment plan that may help you break the asthma-anxiety cycle.

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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) isn’t just one condition. It’s a family of diseases such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis that interfere with your breathing.

In chronic bronchitis, mucus blocks your airway, making it harder to breathe. With emphysema, your body becomes less effective at exchanging carbon dioxide for fresh oxygen.

There are a lot of moving pieces when it comes to understanding and treating COPD, so managing this condition is best done with a comprehensive and coordinated effort. This is usually referred to as your care plan.

A COPD care plan is something you’ll develop with a doctor to outline your overall treatment strategy. This can include things such as:

  • an action plan outlining what symptoms to expect and how to manage them
  • what treatments will be prescribed to you and how you can keep up with them
  • planning for lifestyle changes to accommodate your condition
  • identifying and securing support and resources for your care

This article will explore what goes into a care plan for COPD, what yours might involve, and how it can help you keep your disease under control.

An action plan is a self-management tool that can help you and a doctor identify what symptoms you can expect on good (green) days, bad (yellow) days, and days when you might need medical assistance (red).

  • Green zone. Even on a good day with COPD, you’ll have to stick to certain lifestyle changes and medication plans. Your action plan in the green section will describe how you might feel on these days and remind you to do things such as exercising and taking your regular medications.
  • Yellow zone. You’ll need some extra help on these days. You may have a flare up with increased shortness of breath, coughing, or fatigue. Your action plan will guide you on how to deal with these symptoms, including offering options for special breathing techniques and rescue medications.
  • Red zone. Your attempts to control your COPD exacerbation aren’t enough to address your symptoms. You may be severely short of breath and unable to speak in full sentences or complete everyday tasks. Your action plan can help you or your caregivers recognize when it’s time to contact 911 or local emergency services.

How to make a COPD action plan

Creating your action plan begins with having a discussion with a doctor. You’ll talk about your specific symptoms, goals, and what type of treatment can best help you avoid flare ups.

Once you and a doctor decide on a care plan, you can create an action plan. You can organize symptoms by severity into green, yellow, and red zones and list appropriate treatments or actions for each stage.

Organizations across the world have designed templates to help you construct your action plan. Some examples include:

While the action plan is a helpful self-management tool, it’s only a small part of your overall COPD care plan.

An action plan outlining your medication regimen and when to get additional treatment is an important part of managing your COPD, but it’s not everything. Your care plan also needs to include lifestyle and behavior changes.

Smoking cessation

Quitting smoking is perhaps the most important thing you can do to manage your COPD. Cigarette smoking is the top cause of COPD. About 15 percent of current smokers and almost 8 percent of former smokers develop COPD.

While there are many good treatments for COPD, they won’t be as effective if you don’t quit smoking.

Nutrition

You’ve heard the phrase “you are what you eat.” It’s important for everyone to eat a well-balanced, nutrient-rich diet. For people with COPD, it’s particularly important.

The right nutrient mix can help you breathe better. Be sure you’re getting enough:

  • fiber
  • protein
  • water
  • fresh fruits and vegetables
  • whole grains and other complex carbohydrates

It’s also a good idea to limit things such as:

  • sodium
  • saturated fats
  • simple carbohydrates such as white breads and sugars

Activity

A healthy body is key to a strong pulmonary system. Your heart and lungs work together to move oxygen-rich blood through your body. Heart disease is a complication of COPD and can make it more difficult for you to manage your condition.

Regular exercise is a good idea overall, as are specialized breathing exercises. You can learn special tools to help manage your symptoms in a pulmonary rehabilitation or therapy program.

Avoiding infection

Respiratory infections can trigger COPD exacerbations that worsen your condition and make your lungs weaker. Take care to avoid people who are sick, and be sure to get any possible vaccinations. People with COPD should prioritize receiving vaccinations to protect them against things such as:

Breathing techniques

In addition to regular exercise to strengthen your heart and lungs, your care plan should also include some form of pulmonary therapy or rehabilitation. In these classes, you’ll learn breathing techniques such as pursed-lip breathing that can help when you find yourself short of breath. You’ll also get tips on getting the right nutrition and exercise for your condition.

Energy conservation techniques

Severe shortness of breath can make it difficult to carry out your daily activities, but keeping your independence is still important if you have COPD. A doctor should discuss with you, and include in your care plan, techniques that can help you make it through your day without wasting energy.

These techniques can help you do everyday tasks — such as putting away laundry or cooking dinner — in a way that’s coordinated with your breathing to help you get the job done without an exacerbation of your symptoms.

Home care

As your COPD progresses, you might find it more difficult to complete your daily tasks, even with the help of things such as energy conservation and breathing techniques. Home care can be a much-needed part of your care plan in the later stages of COPD. These services can involve household tasks or medical care, and either of these can help take the burden off of you and your household members.

Living arrangements

Sometimes, home help isn’t enough. In discussing your care plan with a doctor, make sure you’re open with your needs and honest about how well you’re coping at home.

You may find that your current living space makes it harder to manage your COPD. You might have difficulty managing stairs, or your home may have poor ventilation. Click here to learn about what you can do to help make your home COPD-ready.

If you regularly require more help or increased oxygen therapy, you may consider moving to a skilled nursing or assisted living facility. Knowing where you draw the line on living at home ahead of time can help you and your family plan and can take some of the stress out of the decision if your COPD were to suddenly become worse.

COPD is a progressive disease that affects basically every aspect of your life. Your physical abilities may decline in time, putting a strain on your mental and emotional health. Even your relationships with family and friends could become strained as you rely on help from others more.

Having a care plan can take some of the burden off you in terms of making decisions. Having a plan in place outlining treatments and what will happen when or if your condition gets worse can be comforting.

There are lots of ways you can get help and extra support with COPD, and you can even include these things in your care plan.

Emotional support

Anxiety and depression can be major complications of chronic illness. Your loss of physical strength and changes in your independence are a challenge.

In COPD especially, shortness of breath can increase your feelings of anxiety. You may also notice strained personal relationships as you rely on others more for support.

Be sure to include caring for your mental and emotional health in your care plan. It can also be a good idea to find resources to help your family and caregivers learn to cope with your disease.

Social networking

Sharing experiences can help people cope with chronic diseases such as COPD. These conditions can be isolating, and it can be difficult to go through changes that affect nearly every aspect of your life.

Talking through these changes with others who have experienced them can be particularly helpful. You can learn coping skills and new ways to support your condition, or you can just have someone to talk with who understands what you’re going through.

Whether it’s an in-person or online group, being a part of some form of social network can and should be included in your overall care plan for COPD. Examples of support include:

Therapy

There are several types of therapy that can benefit you if you have COPD. This can include therapy for your emotional and mental well-being, as well as other forms of therapy such as:

  • nutrition therapy
  • pulmonary therapy
  • physical therapy
  • occupational therapy

A doctor should review your physical, emotional, and practical needs with you and include therapies to help you manage these challenges in your care plan.

Living with COPD involves a combination of complex medical care and lots of lifestyle changes that can quickly become overwhelming. A care plan is a guide that you can create with a doctor to address your medical, physical, mental, and practical needs as you navigate your condition.

If you don’t have a care plan to help you manage your COPD already, talk to a doctor about creating one.

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