If you have been diagnosed with COPD, you can stop it getting worse. It will not ever go away completely but there are things you can do to stay well and to make your symptoms less severe.
This is the best way to reduce your symptoms, and prevent your condition getting worse.
Keeping active is an important part of helping your breathing.
Learn to manage flare-ups
Worsening symptoms like increased coughing, wheezing, breathlessness and a change in the colour of your sputum (phlegm) is called a flare up or exacerbation.
If you have developed a plan with your healthcare provider, you can start treating a flare-up at home.
Your plan will often include having a supply of antibiotics and prednisone (oral steroid tablets) that you can start taking. If you take them, make a note of what you have taken and when. If you are following your plan and are not improving or are concerned, see your healthcare provider.
If you are getting better, see your healthcare provider a week after starting your antibiotics so they can assess your health and you can refill your emergency prescriptions.
It may take up to a month before you feel normal again. Continue to keep active to maintain your strength.
Learn to manage breathlessness
Finding ways to manage your breathlessness and the anxious feeling it can cause can allow you to enjoy more activities.
Though often frightening, it is important to know being breathless does not usually mean you are short of oxygen.
Simple measures such as having cold air blowing across your face from a fan and finding the right body position can help.
Learn good breathing control — Asthma and Respiratory Foundation (external link)
It is important to have an annual flu vaccine. If you have COPD, you are more likely to be seriously affected by catching the flu or getting a chest infection after the flu.
Flu (influenza) vaccine
You should keep up to date with COVID-19 vaccine boosters.
You should also get a pneumococcal vaccine that protects against a particular type of bacterial infection that can cause a serious lung infection. You may have to pay for this vaccine.
Weight and nutrition
Keeping close to a normal weight (not too high, not too low) is good if you have COPD. Some people with COPD have difficulty putting weight back on, especially after infections.
Talk to your healthcare or your dietitian for help get to and keep a healthy weight.
Keeping your home warm and dry
It is important for your health to keep your home warm and dry.
Keeping your home warm and dry has information about subsidies and support for heating and insulation.
The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ has some useful information about keeping your home healthy.
Healthy homes —Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ (external link)