For the millions of Americans who are diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) each year, the types of treatments they take and lifestyle changes they make will determine how good they feel each day. While there may not be a “cure” for COPD in the traditional sense, there are many things that you can do to alleviate your symptoms and help your body maintain balance. Supplemental oxygen is one of the most common things that doctors prescribe for their COPD patients, and it can be quite beneficial.
Your lungs are designed to bring in fresh oxygen every time you inhale and release carbon dioxide every time you exhale. If your lungs aren’t functioning properly, like in COPD, you may have trouble with this vital process. When you aren’t able to get enough oxygen into your bloodstream, or you have too much carbon dioxide, you may feel tired, short of breath, mentally foggy, and may sleep poorly.
Not everyone with COPD needs supplemental oxygen, but if your doctor recommends this treatment, it can help you feel much better. Oxygen can:
Reduce the strain on your heart
Allow you to exercise longer and/or harder
Help you think more clearly
Give you a better night’s sleep
There are many people who have not yet retired, who are living with pulmonary diseases like COPD. Holding down a job with this kind of illness can be a challenge at times, and when your symptoms are especially bad, it may be hard to motivate yourself to work. But take it as a good sign if you are able to work, even part-time, with COPD! If you want to keep being able to earn an income and keep your illness in check, here are a few tips that may help:
Ask for accommodations
Many employers are more than happy to make reasonable accommodations for you, so you can continue to work, even with COPD symptoms. Consider talking to your supervisor about things like: accessible parking, more frequent work breaks, a smoke-free area, or other small ways to make things easier.
Have oxygen on hand
If you rely on supplemental oxygen, as many people do, it’s important that you keep your portable concentrator with you at all times, along with extra oxygen if possible. This is a simple way that you can stay feeling your best. Look for a concentrator that is small, lightweight, and quiet for the workplace.
Connect with your motivation
It can be hard to get up for work when you have COPD, but it can be nice to remind yourself of all the reasons why you like your job, or how it brings value to your life. Perhaps you enjoy the feeling of independence, social support, or mental stimulation.