Newly Diagnosed with COPD

This article was reviewed by Senior Director of Community Engagement and COPD360social Community Manager, Bill Clark, as well as certified staff Respiratory Therapists on January 30, 2020.

Dear COPD Coach,
I was diagnosed with COPD last week. There is still so much for me to learn and figure out. What lifestyle changes will I need to make?


Dear Changes,
You are right in saying there is a lot to learn. The more you are able to learn, the more you will be in a better position to manage your COPD. COPD isn’t a death sentence, but it certainly requires a lifestyle change.

  • Avoid strong chemical odors. This would include strong cleaning solutions, solvents, perfumes. Also avoid pollution, pollen, wood smoke, dust and anything that irritates your lungs.
  • If you smoke, quit! Avoid second- and even third-hand smoke.
  • Take your medications as prescribed.
  • Eat a balanced diet and avoid foods that cause you to feel bloated. Try eating several small meals throughout the day and avoid large meals.
  • Exercise is very important for COPD management. By keeping your muscles toned, they require less oxygen and therefore you will not get out of breath as much during exertion. (Speak with your doctor or respiratory therapist about what exercise would work best for you).
  • Avoid sick people, and when out and about, wash your hands regularly. If necessary, carry a small bottle of hand cleaner. Wearing a mask when out among large groups of people is always a good idea.
  • Try to stay indoors during high pollen or high pollution times. Also avoid going out in extreme heat or cold, as you may experience difficulty breathing.
  • Get educated! Learn to spot the signs of an exacerbation (times when your breathing becomes worse) and contact your doctor before it becomes serious.
  • Use your supplemental oxygen as prescribed.
  • Get involved with a local COPD community support group.

By following these steps, you can greatly affect the progression of your COPD. For more information please visit our Newly Diagnosed page.

Lastly, please always remember you are not alone. We are here to help if you need us!

– The COPD Coach

Coaches Corner is aimed at providing information for individuals with COPD to take to your doctor, and is not in any way intended to be medical advice. If you would like to submit a question to the Coaches Corner email us at We would love to hear your questions and comments. You can address your emails to The COPD Coach.


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