COVID-19 And COPD: What You Need To Know

Senior sitting on a chair and holding a breathing mask.

The COVID-19 pandemic results in ample time spent breathing through a mask, which can be difficult for those with COPD.

Seniors with COPD have needed to remain especially vigilant since the COVID-19 pandemic started. Individuals with COPD are likely at both a higher risk for experiencing symptoms of the virus along with developing more serious complications as a result. COVID-19 and COPD can prove to be a challenging combination. A current study published by the European Respiratory Journal reported that people with COPD were more likely to be admitted to the ICU, require ventilator care, and succumb to the virus than those without the disease.

Although the CDC provides guidance for all of us, including those with COPD, such as regular handwashing, social distancing, and staying home whenever you can, one recommendation is particularly a struggle for an individual with breathing difficulties: wearing a face covering. The American Lung Association advises that individuals diagnosed with COPD try a variety of face coverings to identify which type is comfortable, and wear the mask around the house for brief periods of time to become used to the feeling.

Additional suggestions for managing COVID-19 and COPD include:

  • Continue to manage your COPD as suggested by the physician, with modifications to curb your exposure to others, such as telehealth appointments and mail-order prescriptions.
  • Boost your body’s defense system with a balanced and healthy diet and plenty of sleep, and be sure to follow the doctor’s recommended treatment plan.
  • Be mindful of your emotional health and find opportunities to minimize stress and anxiety. Turn your attention away from social media and the news and engage in pleasant and gratifying activities instead. And make sure to check with a mental health professional as necessary for help with managing stress and preventing depression.

Of particular significance for anyone with COPD is the importance of regular physical exercise. According to David Au, MD, professor at the University of Washington Medical School’s division of pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine, since COPD causes shortness of breath, physical activity is particularly challenging. He, along with the Respiratory Health Association, recommend (with doctor’s approval):

  • Aim for no less than 30 minutes of exercise every day, at least 3 times per week.
  • Try leg lifts, marching in place, and arm circles, using canned goods or small weights.
  • Go up and down stairs.
  • Include deep breathing exercises.

The following resources offer additional helpful suggestions specific to COPD during the COVID-19 pandemic:

For specialized in-home care for individuals diagnosed with COPD as well as other chronic conditions, call on Advanced Home Health Care. Our staff are fully trained and knowledgeable in providing individualized care to make life safer and more enjoyable. Please contact us at 800.791.7785 to learn more about our Burlington caregiver services and the nearby areas we serve in Des Moines, Lee, Henry, Louisa and Van Buren Counties. See our full service area here.

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