Lifestyle Effects of COPD

Maintaining a Quality Life with COPD

Symptoms involved with the occurrence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can be limiting and even disabling to those who suffer from the disease. Individuals who are affected by COPD often have to make changes in their lifestyles to compensate for symptoms associated with the disease.

COPD Symptoms and Quality of Life

According to a research study published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice1, the symptoms that most affected a patient's perceived quality of life were dyspnea, or shortness of breath, and the degree that airflow is limited. Overall, women felt less burdened by their symptoms than did men. Information provided by the European lung foundation2 shows that for those with COPD:

  • 80 percent had to change their lifestyle due to the disease
  • 25 percent could not provide the same quality of care to children and family as before
  • 20 percent felt they were a burden to family
  • More than 50 percent made less social visits and outings
  • 52 percent were embarrassed in public by their cough
  • 37 percent had income limitations due to COPD

COPD Effects on Home and Family Life

People with COPD may be unable to do the things they did in the past. Activity may be limited due to difficulty in breathing and other symptoms. Outings may be limited or reduced, which can affect the amount of time actively spent with children and other family members. Even daily chores and activities may be curtailed, resulting in the need for help from other family members to pick up any slack. As the disease progresses, the affected individual may need to depend more and more on family members for support and care. This can place a burden on the rest of the family as well as additional psychological burden on the patient.

Relationship Effects of COPD

Intimate relations may be affected by COPD as those affected may have a reduced desire and inability to perform sexual activities. A person with COPD may need to spend more time caring for their condition and less time with friends and family members, which can affect relationships as well.

COPD Effects on Family Members

Family members, especially children, may not understand the full effects of COPD on the individual. Those with COPD need to follow doctor recommendations for managing the disease to maintain as much of their lifestyle as possible, not only for themselves, but also for family members and friends. It is important to maintain open communication with friends and family members about COPD and its limitations. Try to maintain some of the activities you enjoyed before by adjusting the timing and duration of events while reducing the potential for exacerbating triggers.


  1. J L Izquierdo. et. al.; Study of the burden on patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  2. Lauren Anderson, contact; European Lung Foundation; Study sheds light on the impact of COPD on working aged populations