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COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)

When you are diagnosed with a long term respiratory condition such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) it is tempting to rely on medication to make you feel better but some very simple things can make the biggest difference to how much the disease impacts on your life, how breathless you feel, how difficult it is to clear secretions, how tired you get, and how often you have to attend your GP or even be admitted to hospital.

The first thing to do if you haven’t already, is to give up smoking. No matter how severe your lung condition is, giving up smoking will slow down the changes to the lungs. Advice for this can be provided by a pharmacist or you GP practice or online at

A controlled careful increase in exercise and activity will also improve your quality of life. Feeling out of breath can be very frightening especially when you associate being out of breath with your lung condition getting worse. It is understandable that you might not ever want to get out of breath at all which means you end up actively avoiding any physical activity such as using stairs, doing housework, walking outdoors or even washing and dressing yourself. Avoiding activities where you get out of breath means you become less fit, feel tired quickly and get out of breath even more easily. This ends up becoming a cycle of worsening fitness and worsening breathing. At any stage of living with a long-term lung condition you can break this cycle. Physiotherapy and exercise therapy can help you to cope with being out of breath. How to recognise “good” breathlessness rather than being out of breath and out of control is an essential part of this. It teaches you how to be more active in a controlled way while coping with symptoms like coughing and air hunger when you are active and exercise. Getting out of breath in a measured way is extremely important for staying as fit as possible. Learning individualised exercises and breathing techniques with a Physiotherapist in a safe environment enables you to be confident using the skills at home, out and about or even in the gym. Stronger more efficient muscles, stronger bones, better balance and more mobile joints all help you feel fitter and more able to live life how you want as well as breaking the vicious cycle of breathlessness and inactivity.

COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) image

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