Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can be a devastating illness that workers in certain industries like construction can develop. Employees suffering with this disease can experience severe shortness of breath, repeated lung infections, limitations on their daily activities, and possible early death. However, there are steps sufferers can take to manage their COPD and improve their quality of life.
Steps to Take to Reduce the Symptoms of COPD
Unfortunately, there is no cure for COPD, and the symptoms can become worse and more debilitating over time. However, employees can take the following steps to manage this illness:
- Stop smoking. Smoking is a leading cause of COPD and can make the symptoms worse. Employees who develop COPD need to stop smoking immediately and limit their exposure to second-hand smoke and other irritants, such as chemicals and dust at work.
- Get the flu vaccine. People suffering with COPD are at higher risk of getting the flu or pneumonia—with more serious complications. They should get an influenza vaccine yearly as well as one for pneumonia as needed.
- Do breathing exercises. Breathing exercises and inspiratory muscle training can strengthen the breathing muscles and improve lung capacity, make breathing easier, and reduce mucus in the lungs that contribute to exacerbations of COPD and other lung infections.
- Exercise regularly. COPD not only reduces a person’s ability to breathe, but can also cause wasting of the person’s muscles and bones. Exercise, such as walking, strengthening exercises, yoga, and tai chi can help increase stamina and physical abilities as well as improve the person’s quality of life.
- Seek psychological support. People with COPD are at high risk of developing depression and anxiety that can increase when their level of activity and social interaction decreases as the disease progresses. Mental health treatment and supports groups can help people reduce their stress and improve their emotional state.
If you developed occupational COPD, you will need long-term medical care and may be off work frequently when you are experiencing exacerbations of this disease—if you don’t become permanently disabled. Call me at 877-360-0183 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to learn about the benefits you could be entitled to under New Jersey’s workers’ compensation.