Those with COPD have needed to be especially vigilant since the COVID-19 pandemic began, as they are likely at both a greater risk for contracting the virus, as well as developing more serious complications as a result. A recent research study published by the European Respiratory Journal reported that people with COPD were more apt to be admitted into the ICU, require ventilator care, and succumb to the virus compared to those without the disease.
And even though the CDC gives suggestions for all of us, as well as individuals with COPD, to avoid contracting the illness, such as regular handwashing, social distancing, and staying home whenever possible, one recommendation is especially challenging for an individual with breathing difficulties: wearing a face covering. The American Lung Association suggests that individuals with COPD try a number of different kinds of coverings to discover one that’s most comfortable, and wear the mask around the house for brief amounts of time to become more accustomed to the sensation.
Additional suggestions include:
- Continue to manage your COPD as suggested according to your physician, with modifications to limit your exposure to others, for example, telehealth appointments and mail-order prescriptions.
- Boost your immune system with a healthier eating plan and a lot of rest, and make certain to follow the doctor’s recommended plan for treatment.
- Take care of your emotional health to minimize stress. Switch off the social media and the news and participate in relaxing and gratifying activities instead.a And make sure to speak with a mental health professional as needed for help with managing stress nd combating depression.
Of particular significance for anyone with COPD is the importance of regular exercise. According to David Au, MD, professor at the University of Washington Medical School’s division of pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine, since COPD causes shortness of breath, physical activity is especially challenging. He, along with the Respiratory Health Association, suggest (with physician approval):
- Strive for no less than half an hour of exercise each day, at least 3 times per week.
- Try leg lifts, marching in place, and arm circles, making use of canned goods or small weights.
- Go up and down stairs
- Include deep breathing exercises.
These resources provide additional helpful tips specific to COPD issues during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- The American Lung Association
- The Respiratory Health Association
- The COPD Foundation
- Living with COPD
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