Those diagnosed with COPD have needed to stay especially watchful since the COVID-19 pandemic started, as they are likely at both a much higher risk for contracting the virus as well as for developing more severe complications from it. A recent research study published by the European Respiratory Journal reported that people with COPD were more likely to be admitted to the ICU, require ventilator care, and succumb to the virus compared to those without the disease.
And even though the CDC gives recommendations for all of us, including those diagnosed with COPD to avoid getting the illness, such as frequent handwashing, social distancing, and staying home whenever possible, one advisory is particularly a struggle for an individual with breathing difficulties: wearing a face covering. The American Lung Association suggests that individuals diagnosed with COPD try a number of various kinds of coverings to discover the one that’s most comfortable, and wear the mask around the home for brief amounts of time to become more used to the feeling.
Additional suggestions include:
- Continue to manage your COPD as recommended by the physician, with modifications to curb your exposure to other people, such as telehealth appointments and mail-order prescriptions.
- Boost your body’s defense system with a healthy and balanced diet and plenty of rest, and make sure to follow the physician’s recommended treatment plan.
- Take good care of your emotional health to minimize anxiety and stress. Switch off the news and social media and take part in soothing and gratifying activities instead. And make certain to consult with a mental health professional as needed for help with managing stress and preventing depression.
Of particular importance for anyone with COPD is the need for regular physical 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, physical activity is particularly challenging. He, as well as the Respiratory Health Association, recommend (with physician approval):
- Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise on a daily basis, at least three 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 offer more useful information targeted to COPD considerations during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- The American Lung Association
- The Respiratory Health Association
- The COPD Foundation
- Living with COPD
For specialized in-home care for individuals diagnosed with COPD as well as other chronic conditions, call on Generations at Home. Our staff are fully trained and knowledgeable in providing individualized care in order to make life safer and much more enjoyable. You can reach us any time at 727-940-3414.