Asthma   COPD

Learn to Manage Your COPD

Click the icons below for tips and tricks on better managing your COPD

Exercise & COPD

Exercise is a crucial part of your COPD management.

Staying active can help reduce shortness of breath. When your heart and breathing muscles are in shape, they require less oxygen. While exercise can’t reverse COPD, it can help improve your everyday quality of life.

Exercise helps control and reduce your weight, which is important as excess fat around the stomach is inclined to press on your diaphragm, making breathing more difficult.

Additionally, exercise builds strength and endurance. The more you exercise, routine activities like shopping, cooking, and cleaning become easier.

Always consult your doctor before starting an exercise programme. The doctor should help determine the best routine for you and whether you should use supplemental oxygen or medical supervision during workouts.

Keep it simple

Set simple, achievable fitness goals. Walking for 10 minutes without becoming breathless is a great place to start.

Exercises are most effective when done safely and on a regular basis.

Before exercising outside, be aware of environmental COPD triggers like weather, pollen counts, and pollution levels.

Plan for indoor workouts like walking in a well-ventilated shopping mall.

10 tips for exercising with COPD

1. Sit and rest for 5 minutes before your workout.
2. Do light warm-up exercises.
3. Rest occasionally during your exercise session.
4. Practice proper breathing techniques during your workout.
5. Commit to a scheduled exercise routine.
6. Avoid sudden bursts of activity.
7. Stop exercising when you notice warning signs of a COPD flare-up.
8. Exercise in a well-ventilated, dust-free and controlled environment.
9. Always exercise in moderation.
10. Exercise with a friend to keep you motivated.

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Nutrition & COPD

Tips for eating well with COPD

Changing a lifetime of eating habits can be a challenge, but it's an important part of your COPD treatment. If necessary, share these tips with your caregiver to ensure you enjoy good nutrition at every meal.

Proper nutrition includes eating regularly and eating healthy foods. The food you eat is needed to:

1. Provide the energy you need for ongoing functions like breathing and digestion.
2. Provide the energy you need for daily physical activities.
3. Help strengthen your natural immune system against infections.

Avoid breathlessness while eating

Eating and digestion requires energy, so rest before a meal if eating makes you short of breath.

To relieve pressure on your lungs, eat while sitting up. A full stomach can push on your diaphragm (the muscle that physically moves air in and out of your lungs). Limiting the movement of your diaphragm makes breathing more difficult.

Try eating smaller meals more often throughout the day. For example, instead of three big meals a day, try six frequent mini-meals and avoid foods that are hard to chew.

If you are on oxygen, continue using it while eating. Your body uses oxygen to provide the energy needed to eat and digest your food.

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Travel & COPD

COPD never goes on holiday

The key to travelling with COPD is careful preparation and planning.

The first step is to choose a safe and healthy destination with modern medical services and avoid regions with inadequate facilities or questionable medical providers. Destinations that offer smoke-free accommodations, shopping, restaurants and transportation are ideal.

Avoid accommodation and attractions that are filled with your COPD triggers. For instance, a smoke-filled venue is not a good bet.

Choose places with a similar climate to where you feel most comfortable and avoid extreme conditions like cold and dry or hot and humid.

Talk with your doctor before you go

Discuss all your travel plans with your doctor, including:
• Destinations
• Length of time you'll be travelling
• Travelling companions, if any
• How you've been feeling over the past several months

Ask your doctor for:
• A brief medical history in writing. Make a copy for your records at home.
• An updated medication schedule.
• Written prescriptions for all your medications.

Arrange health insurance.

Before you leave, purchase a travel health insurance policy that covers your entire travel period to your chosen destination with the option of extending.

Your travel agent can advise you about appropriate health insurance plans

Prepare and pack your medication and medical equipment

Personally pack your medications in your carry-on luggage to avoid loss. Carry enough for the trip, plus extra in case your stay is longer than planned.

Bring a list with the names of your medications, the dosage, and when you need to take them.

For oxygen users, consider a portable compressor that runs on a rechargeable battery or car lighter adapter. Portable compressors are likely to be available from your oxygen supplier. Make sure to pack a simple diagram that explains how your medical equipment works in case you need help from someone who does not understand English.

Know the type of electrical outlets when travelling abroad. Bring the correct wattage converter plug to ensure your oxygen compressor works at your destination.

Plan your oxygen supply

It's essential supplemental oxygen users have a doctor's prescription on hand, especially when travelling outside New Zealand.

Ask your oxygen supplier to estimate the amount of oxygen you'll need for your trip.

Take into account how factors such as heat, humidity and air conditioning affect your breathing and oxygen usage.

Ask your oxygen supplier for names and addresses of oxygen suppliers along your holiday route. Whether you fly, drive, or ride, plan your oxygen supply in advance.

Travelling by plane with oxygen.
Air travel with oxygen takes more planning. Call your airline about their rules for travelling with oxygen as each airline has different rules and procedures.

Travelling with oxygen by car.
Secure your oxygen equipment in an upright position and provide plenty of ventilation to prevent build-up of oxygen concentrations.

Travelling by train with oxygen.
Call the rail line well in advance to make arrangements for your oxygen use. People with COPD frequently report that travelling by train is quite comfortable and easy.

Check your destination's climate and air quality.

Check the newspaper, TV or internet for local weather and air quality conditions.

Anticipate what COPD triggers might be at your new destination: will there be pollen or air pollution? Will it be extremely cold, extremely hot, or humid? Be prepared and find out whether your destination will have potential COPD triggers before you arrive.

Pace yourself

Eat well, sleep well, and stay hydrated. Don't exert yourself or do too much. Rest, relax, and get enough sleep.
You've worked hard for your holiday so take it easy and enjoy your trip!

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Hygiene & COPD

Hand washing protects your health

Proper hand washing - or using an alcohol-based hand rub - is the most effective way to protect yourself against many infectious diseases, including the flu and common cold.

Hand washing not only helps prevent you from getting sick, but also reduces the risk of infecting others. Remember: even clean-looking hands may be carrying germs.

A sick person who sneezes or coughs releases their germs into the air in tiny droplets. These contaminated droplets can get onto your hands and from your hands these germs can infect you when you touch your eyes, nose or mouth.

Individuals who live alone can also get sick if they don't wash their hands. Key times to wash hands are before and after preparing food, after handling raw meat and after using the bathroom.

You can also pick up germs left on shared objects like doorknobs, keyboards, light switches, telephones and other items found around the home and workplace.

6 steps to proper hand washing

1. Remove any hand or arm jewellery.

2. Wet your hands with warm water.

3. Use soap and rub your hands together, making sure to lather all surfaces for at least 15 seconds. Wash the front and back of your hands, as well as between your fingers and under your nails.

4. Using a rubbing motion, rinse your hands thoroughly under warm running water.

5. Wipe and dry your hands gently with a paper or clean towel. Be gentle as drying vigorously can damage the skin.

6. In public restrooms, use a paper towel to turn off the tap to avoid re-contaminating your hands. Use the paper towel to open the door when you leave.

Treating dry hands

If skin dryness is a problem, use a non-scented moisturising lotion. If you have sensitive skin or work at a job that requires continuous hand washing (such as healthcare or food services), consider using an alcohol-based hand rub instead.

Using alcohol-based hand rubs

Alcohol-based hand rubs may be used when soap and water are not available. Use these hand rubs according to the manufacturer's instructions, ensuring your hands are dry as wet hands will dilute the product.

Use enough solution to cover all the surfaces of your hands and fingers.

Rub your hands together until the product has evaporated. If skin dryness is a problem, follow with a moisturising lotion

7 rules for more sanitary living

1. Wash your hands thoroughly after coughing and sneezing, before and after preparing food, after handling raw meat, before and after eating, after petting an animal and after using the bathroom.

2. When you cough or sneeze, use a tissue and dispose of it immediately after use. If you don't have a tissue, sneeze or cough into the crook of your elbow.

3. Regularly clean the surfaces in your home and office. Shared objects like doorknobs, light switches, telephones, and keyboards are especially prone to collecting and spreading germs.

4. Keep bar soap in a self-draining holder that can be cleaned thoroughly before a new bar is added.

5. Don't use one damp cloth to wash more than one pair of hands and avoid using a common hand towel.

6. Avoid using a standing basin of water to rinse your hands.

7. Don’t use sponges or non-disposable cleaning cloths unless they are changed daily and laundered with detergent as germs thrive on moist surfaces.

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Daily life & COPD

Take the CAT regularly

Test to see how COPD is affecting your everyday life by regularly taking the COPD Assessment TestTM (CAT). It is designed to measure the impact of COPD on a person's life and how this changes over time. Take the CAT test regularly to receive valuable insight into how your health changes over time.

The CAT test has a minimum score of 0 (indicating no impact of COPD on a person’s life) and a maximum score of 40 (indicating a very high impact of COPD). You should discuss your scores with your doctor or nurse the next time you see them, so that they can address any issues for you.

Take the COPD Assessment TestTM (CAT) now to see how you are tracking.

How’s your inhaler technique?

Make sure your inhaler technique is as good as it could be. Check your technique with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist. Click here for illustrated instructions on how to take your Seretide.

Create an action plan

Follow your COPD action plan (if you have one). If not, ask your healthcare professional to write one with you.

Always carry your reliever inhaler

Always carry your blue reliever inhaler just in case you need it. A fast acting ‘reliever’ medicine, such as Ventolin, should be used for any sudden attacks of breathlessness or wheezing.

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Smoking & COPD

It’s never too late

Smoking is the leading cause of COPD in New Zealand. Remember, it’s never too late to stop smoking!

The benefits of quitting can start in hours and last for years. Click here to see a full list of benefits.

6 tips for protecting yourself and loved ones from tobacco smoke

1. If you smoke, quit.

2. If you can’t quit, try to cut down and only smoke outdoors.

3. Never smoke around pregnant women, infants, children, and teenagers.

4. Never allow smoking in your home or the family car.

5. Avoid places where people are smoking and where people usually smoke. Smoke toxins can get trapped in fabric and upholstery.

6. Reduce the effects of second-hand smoke by opening windows, turning on a fan or air purifier, or smoking near the chimney.

Get help to quit smoking

Quitting smoking can dramatically improve your breathing. While, it may take a few attempts to quit for good, there are a number of effective programmes that can help.

One of the most successful methods to quit smoking combines counselling with nicotine replacement therapy or smoking cessation medications.

Improve your chances of quitting by taking advantage of helpful online support:

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We Answer Your Questions

Read through the most frequently asked questions about COPD and its treatment.