Here are ten things commonly said about COPD. Do you buy into them – or are you busted?
1. COPD is always caused by smoking.
Not true. Although cigarette smoking is a major cause of COPD, not everybody who has COPD was, or is, a smoker.
2. You’re a smoker. What did you expect?
So, if you smoked, or still smoke, you get COPD, right?
Not necessarily. Research reveals that only about 20 percent of people who smoke eventually get COPD.
3. As soon as I quit smoking, my lungs will start to regenerate.Wouldn’t that be nice? But, unfortunately, it’s doesn’t happen. Delicate lung tissue that has been destroyed will stay that way. If you smoke, make every effort to avoid further lung damage by quitting smoking, avoiding lung irritants and infections, and taking the best medications available to keep your lungs stable.
4. Exercising helps build up my lungs and improve my lung function numbers.
I wish it did! Although lung damage itself cannot be reversed, you can have huge improvements in your ability to breathe better and stay active by exercising – effectively.
5. Once I go on oxygen, that’s the beginning of the end.
I hear people say this all the time and it is not true! Using supplemental oxygen can actually help you live longer.
6. The best thing for me to do is take it easy and do as little as possible.
So not true! When you have COPD, sitting in your chair and doing nothing is the worst thing you can do! Inactive muscles quickly become weak and use oxygen less efficiently.
7. A diagnosis of COPD is pretty much a death sentence.
Not true at all! It is not unusual for a person to live for many years (20 years or more) with a diagnosis of COPD.
8. It’s gross to cough and to spit out your mucous. You should just hold it in.
Well, it might seem that way, but as a person with COPD it is often a necessary part of your daily routine to clear your lungs of excess phlegm.
9. If I wear my oxygen at home, that should be enough to help me when I go out. Untrue. Your body cannot store oxygen.
10. I should be as thin as possible in order to carry less weight and breathe as well as I can. Not at all. It is true that a person with COPD should not have a large belly because it can push up on the lungs and get in the way of breathing. However, it is perfectly all right for a person with COPD to weigh up to ten pounds over “ideal” body weight. This bit of extra weight comes in handy if you get sick and can’t eat.