Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

ExitCare ImageChronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a lung disease. The lungs become damaged. This makes it hard to get air in and out of your lungs. The damage to your lungs cannot be changed. There are things you can do to improve the lungs and make you feel better.


  • Take all medicines as told by your doctor.

  • Use medicines that you breathe in (inhale) as told by your doctor.

  • Avoid medicines or cough syrups that dry up your airway (antihistamines) and do not allow you to get rid of thick spit.

  • If you smoke, stop.

  • Avoid being around smoke, chemicals, and fumes that bother your breathing.

  • Avoid people that have a catchy (contagious) sickness.

  • Avoid going outside when it is very hot, cold, or humid.

  • Use humidifiers in your home and near your bedside if it helps your breathing.

  • Drink enough fluids to keep your pee (urine) clear or pale yellow.

  • Eat healthy foods. Eat smaller meals more often and rest before meals.

  • Ask your doctor if it is okay to take vitamins or pills with minerals (supplements).

  • Exercise and stay active.

  • Rest with activity.

  • Get into a comfortable position when you have trouble breathing.

  • Learn and use tips on how to relax.

  • Learn and use tips on how to control your breathing as told by your doctor. Try:

  • Breathing in through your nose for 1 second. Then, breath out (exhale) through your puckered (like a whistle) lips for 2 seconds.

  • Putting one hand on your belly (abdomen). Breathe in slowly through your nose. Your hand on your belly should move out. Breathe out slowly through your puckered lips. Your hand on your belly should move in as you breathe out.

  • Learn and use controlled coughing to clear thick spit from your lungs.

  1. Lean your head slightly forward.

  2. Breathe in deeply.

  3. Try to hold your breath for 3 seconds.

  4. Keep your mouth slightly open while coughing 2 times.

  5. Spit any thick spit out into a tissue.

  6. Rest and do the steps again 1 or 2 times as needed.

  • Get all shots (vaccines) a told by your doctor.

  • Learn how to manage stress.

  • Schedule and go to all follow-up doctor visits.

  • Go to therapy that can help you improve your lungs (pulmonary rehabilitation) as told by your doctor.

  • Use oxygen at home as told by your doctor.


  • You can feel your heart beating really fast.

  • You have shortness of breath while resting.

  • You have shortness of breath that stops you from being able to talk.

  • You have shortness of breath that stops you from doing normal activities.

  • You have chest pain lasting longer than 5 minutes.

  • You start to shake uncontrollably (seizure).

  • Your family or friends notice that you are flustered or confused.

  • You cough up more thick spit than usual.

  • There is a change in the color or thickness of the spit.

  • Breathing is more difficult than usual.

  • Your breathing is faster than usual.

  • Your skin color is more blueish than usual.

  • You are running out of the medicine you take for breathing.

  • You are anxious, uneasy, fearful, or restless.

  • You have a fever.


  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.