COPD and Fall Risk: 7 Things You Need to Know

COPD can increase your risk of falling

COPD is a group of respiratory diseases that decrease your ability to breathe well and increase your risk of falling. But don’t worry. COPD responds well to treatment so you can keep living the life you want. And there are ways to reduce your fall risk and improve your ability to recover if you do take a tumble. Let’s learn how.

4 Ways COPD Increases Fall Risk

There are physical and environmental reasons that COPD makes you more likely to fall. The condition increases risk because:

  1. It reduces your body’s ability to oxygenate blood, which can make you dizzy, impair your balance or even cause you to faint.
  2. Medications may make you sleepy or wide awake, which can impact your ability to move safely.
  3. You could trip on or fall over the cords and hoses for breathing equipment like portable oxygen.
  4. It can make eating and swallowing more challenging, so you might become weak from malnourishment.

Knowing the risk factors can help you and your family members stay safer.

3 Ways You Can Decrease Fall Risk

If you’re living with COPD, you can lower the chances of tripping and falling. Planning ahead improves your ability to avoid a fall, reduce the impact of one, and get the help you need. Start by:

  1. Asking your doctor to explain how your condition and the medications used to treat it impact your risk of falling.
  2. Making changes to your living space that remove slip, trip and fall dangers, not just from medical equipment.
  3. Devising a fall response plan that includes:
    1. Wearing a medical ID so people know how to help and who to call if you’re unconscious or unable to speak.
    2. Practicing how to transition from lying on your back or side to sitting or standing.
    3. Remembering the three ways to get help if you can’t sit or stand up: call out for help if someone else is home, use your medical alert system, or dial 9-1-1 if your phone is within reach.

These preventive actions can have a big impact on your or your family member’s ability to recover from a fall.

Staying active and safe with COPD

You can live a full and active life with COPD. Understanding how the condition makes you more likely to fall and taking steps to reduce that risk is the first step.

Don’t disregard professional medical advice, or delay seeking it, because of what you read here. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional consultation, diagnosis or treatment; it is provided “as is” without any representations or warranties, express or implied. Always consult a healthcare provider if you have specific questions about any medical matter, and seek professional attention immediately if you think you or someone in your care may be experiencing a healthcare condition or medical emergency.