Five Tips for COPD Patients

Submitted by Pam Lowe, Beebe Pulmonary Rehabilitation

World COPD Day - tips for the COPD patient.COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is a progressive disease that makes it hard to breathe. "Progressive" means the disease gets worse over time.

COPD can cause coughing that produces large amounts of mucus (a slimy substance), wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and other symptoms.

Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of COPD. Most people who have COPD smoke or used to smoke. Long-term exposure to other lung irritants—such as air pollution, chemical fumes, or dust—also may contribute to COPD.

Here are some tips for patients dealing with COPD

  • When you are having trouble breathing, try pursed lip breathing, count 1,2,3, to inhale and count 1,2,3,4,5, when you exhale, with your lips pursed the entire time.
  • If your medication has a corticosteroid as one of the active ingredients, be sure to rinse your mouth out with water after taking your medication, to prevent thrush.
  • Preventative lung health starts with a visit to a pulmonologist at least once per year.
  • If you use an inhaler, asks your doctor about a spacer. This device will allow the medication to be more effective and it also takes less coordination if you have trouble timing the inhalation with the dispensing of the medication.
  • Remember to wash your hands regularly; shopping carts, door knobs and light switches can harbor germs, and you have an increased risk of getting sick!

Exercise is a key part of staying healthy with COPD 

Some benefits of exercise are:

  • Stretching everyday will keep you muscles healthy.
  • Resistance training will support your muscles and bones to keep them strong.
  • When you can’t get outside, walk around your home for some exercise.
  • Do 10-15 minutes of exercise 2- 3 times a day, until you are able to complete 30-40 minutes in one session.
  • Exercising daily will increase brain chemicals that will leave you feeling more relaxed and happy 

In 2013, Beebe Healthcare Pulmonary Rehabilitation program was started by Pam Lowe and Kelly Thompson, pulmonary rehab specialists.  Since then, the program has doubled in size. The rehab program works hand and hand with the nutrition and pharmacy departments to assist with educational needs in their area of expertise.  Dr. Vikas Batra, MD, a Board Certified Pulmonologist, is the medical director of the pulmonary rehab program. He oversees all of the patients that attend the pulmonary rehab program.

Breathe Better

The pulmonary rehab is a program designed to strengthen your lung function and increase your endurance. During the program patients are given education on a variety of topics from lung health to proper nutrition. A referral from any physician can be made; patients must meet specific requirements to be eligible for the rehabilitation program. 

Patients and those with COPD are encouraged to attend a monthly support group called The Better Breathers. For details on this support group, call (302) 645-3298.

After patients graduate they may choose to continue with the maintenance program. This program is a self-pay program with a nominal fee.  During this program patients will continue their exercise program with greater independence, for as long as they choose. Patients will have the opportunity to interact with peers and make lifelong relationships.  

For more information, call the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Department at (302) 645-3579.

Pam Lowe has a Bachelor’s Degree in exercise physiology from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. She is a registered respiratory therapist at Beebe Healthcare.