Those diagnosed with COPD have had to remain especially watchful since the COVID-19 pandemic began, as they are likely at both a more significant risk for contracting the virus as well as developing more serious complications because of this. A recently available research study published by the European Respiratory Journal reported that people with COPD were more likely to be admitted into the ICU, require ventilator care, and succumb to the virus than those without the disease.
And while the CDC gives recommendations for all of us, including those diagnosed with COPD, in order to prevent contracting the illness, such as regular handwashing, social distancing, and staying home whenever you can, one advisory is especially a challenge for an individual with breathing difficulties: wearing a face covering. The American Lung Association advises that those with COPD try various kinds of coverings to discover one that’s most comfortable, and wear the mask around the house for brief periods of time to become more accustomed to the feeling.
Additional recommendations for those living at home with COPD include:
- Continue to take care of your COPD as recommended according to the physician, with modifications to restrict your exposure to others, such as for example, telehealth appointments and mail-order prescriptions.
- Boost the body’s defense system with a balanced diet and plenty of sleep, and make certain to follow the physician’s recommended treatment plan.
- Take proper care of your emotional health to lower stress and anxiety. Switch off the news and social media and participate in relaxing and rewarding activities instead. And be sure to consult with a mental health professional if needed for assistance with managing stress and preventing depression.
Of particular importance for those with COPD is the need to have frequent exercise. According to David Au, MD, professor at the University of Washington Medical School’s division of pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine, because COPD causes shortness of breath, exercising is especially challenging. He, and the Respiratory Health Association, suggest (with doctor’s approval):
- Strive for a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise on a daily basis, at least 3 x weekly.
- Try leg lifts, marching in position, and arm circles, using canned goods or small weights.
- Go up and down stairs
- Incorporate yoga breathing exercises.
These resources offer more helpful tips specific to COPD challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- The American Lung Association
- The Respiratory Health Association
- The COPD Foundation
- Living with COPD
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