PART 2 ~ Living well with chronic lung disease

Contributed by Jim Nelson, consultant to CAIRE Inc. ~

This is the second blog in a series of posts about getting through your day while faced with the demands of a chronic disease such as COPD. The posts contain valuable information for both patients and for caregivers from our friend, Uncle Jim. ~


Many canned or processed foods contain more sodium and fat than you might expect. If you are cooking for yourself, plan and prepare the meals when you feel the most energetic. Cook healthy stuff, stuff that you will enjoy eating, and cook too much. Bag, label, and freeze the rest so that you will have some meals in reserve for those times when your energy isn’t so great.

Keep cooking utensils in handy places. The less bending, the better. If you have a dishwasher, let it do the work for you. If not, soak pots and pans in soapy water to make them easier to clean. If you want, use paper plates so you don’t have to wash them.

The fumes from kitchen products can be an irritant to your lungs. Use natural products or things like baking soda or vinegar. If you are wearing an oxygen cannula, reposition it so that the tubing (or hose) runs down your back, to keep it away from the heat source.

As lung disease progresses, it is not uncommon for the size of lungs to expand, compensating for their inefficiency. When that happens, there is less room for a full tummy! Eating a big meal can result in discomfort and shortness of breath, so learn to graze. Eat five or six small meals a day.


Many of us find showering to be difficult. The increased humidity bothers some people with COPD, and others find it difficult to raise their arms comfortably to wash and rinse their hair. If you are on oxygen therapy, talk to your doctor or provider about whether or not you can crank it up a notch, and run the tubing (or hose) over the shower rod while you are in the shower to give yourself a better chance. Try a shower chair. If necessary, take a bath or even a sponge bath. Try sitting down or using an absorbent robe to dry yourself. Sit down to brush your teeth, or for other grooming efforts. Beware of scented toiletries. If you can smell it, it is likely an irritant.

Use the exhaust fan to decrease humidity and to dissipate the fumes from deodorant, hair spray, and the like. Try to stay away from aerosol products for grooming or cleaning the bathroom. If you struggle to sit down on or get up from the toilet, consider an elevated seat. A grab bar by the toilet and in the shower can also be useful.


If you can mow your lawn and tend your garden with no problem, great! If it wears you out or you are simply not getting it done, get someone to help you. If you can’t guilt somebody into helping, hire it done. If you enjoy gardening, tackle a small part at a time. Take a stool for sitting, use your oxygen, and do what you can without wearing yourself out. Wear a mask if pollen levels are high or air quality is poor. In areas such as Arizona, where we have such things as Valley Fever lurking in the dirt, wear a mask. Beware of irritants from the spraying of fertilizers or weed and pest control products.

~ Uncle Jim

Jim Nelson is a double lung transplant recipient and a patient advocate for COPD patients throughout the U.S. and around the world. He and his wife, Mary, are well known patient advocates and brand ambassadors for those organizations who tirelessly endeavor to help those individuals who suffer from a variety of respiratory diseases and the caregivers who support them.

If you have been prescribed oxygen therapy, learn more about CAIRE wearableportable and stationary oxygen concentrators by visiting or calling 1-877-704-0878 to talk to an oxygen advisor. 

When using any oxygen therapy device please consult the applicable product instructions for use for product indications, contraindications, warnings, precautions, and detailed safety information.

*By submitting this information, I authorize CAIRE to contact me including by phone.


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