Steps you can take to control symptoms


COPD can impact your life on a daily basis, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities to take control of the things that can trigger your symptoms. Regular treatment and a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, a balanced diet and use of breathing techniques, can help you manage COPD by controlling symptoms and slowing the development of further damage to your lungs¹.

How to live with COPD?

Russell Video Therapy

COPD athlete Russell Winwood and his physician Dr. Wayne Kelly discuss daily life with COPD.

More information on COPD

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Follow your action plan

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Preparing and following an action plan can help you live as normal a life as possible with COPD. A COPD action plan is intended to give you instructions to follow depending on how you feel and the intensity of your symptoms. Action plans are usually structured into green, yellow and red zones that correspond with your symptoms, ranging from normal to more severe.


It is also important to stick to the plan even if your breathing feels OK. Seeing your doctor regularly gives you the chance to talk about how you are feeling generally, including flare-ups you may be having and possible changes to medication2.

Avoid common COPD symptom triggers

COPD symptoms can be triggered by your environment, so being aware of what can cause a flare-up may help you better manage your condition day-to-day. Some suggestions to reduce COPD triggers include:

  • Avoid lung irritants, such as air pollution or chemical fumes by staying indoors on days when the air quality is poor
  • Improve the air quality inside your home with ventilation or an air purifier
  • Reduce mucus build-up by using a humidifier and drinking plenty of water
  • Don’t allow smoking in your home and avoid second-hand smoke outside
  • Reduce your chance of catching a cold or the flu by washing your hands frequently, avoiding large crowds during the winter season and making sure you have your scheduled vaccines

Consider making lifestyle changes


Regular treatment and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can not only help you manage your symptoms, but may aid in slowing the progression of COPD and help you enjoy an active life. Consider the following lifestyle changes and management tips3,4:


Stop or avoid smoking


Excercise regularly


Eating well and maintain a healthy weight


Practice breathing and relaxation techniques


Learn how to cough effectively


Recognize and avoid the factors that trigger flare-ups

Action plan

Have an action plan for flare-ups

Taking medication

Taking your medication as prescribed

Talk to a doctor

See your doctor regularly, even if you feel well, and especially if you have any concerns

Frequently asked questions

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Healthline. COPD: Treatment Options. http://www.healthline.com/health/copd/treatment-options#Overview1 Accessed on 3 August 2015.

American Lung Association. Instructions for COPD MANAGEMENT PLAN. http://www.lung.org/lung-disease/copd/living-with-copd/ala-copd-management-plan.pdf Accessed on 15 May 2015.

bettersleepandbreathing.com. Minimizing COPD Flareups. http://www.bettersleepandbreathing.com/post/78457078071/minimizing-copd-flareups Accessed on 3rd August 2015.
4 COPD Foundation. Staying Healthy and Avoiding Exacerbations. http://www.copdfoundation.org/What-is-COPD/Living-with-COPD/Staying-Healthy-and-Avoiding-Exacerbations.aspx Accessed on 3 August 2015.

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