So you have COPD? What do you need to know, and what do you want to know? Don’t be shy, ask! Your healthcare provider will be more than willing to help you make your COPD journey more tolerable. If you don’t know what to ask, we’ve made a list of questions to help you start a conversation.
1. Am I taking my medications correctly?
COPD medications must be taken correctly, as directed by your doctor. Devices like inhalers and nebulizers can be tricky to use. Show your doctor how you use these medications and allow them to see if you are doing it correctly and provide recommendations. Ask for an action plan from your health provider to help you stay organized.
2. My medication doesn’t seem to work. What should I do?
If you feel like there are no changes after taking your medications for several weeks; discuss it with your doctor will allow them to find an alternative option. Educate yourself about the symptoms and learn how to manage them to prevent hospitalization.
3. Are there exercises I can do to feel better?
A program called pulmonary rehabilitation can teach you more about your lungs and health condition; as well as provide exercise routines to strengthen your lungs. Discuss this option with your primary care provider and ask for referrals to a pulmonary rehabilitation program; because of the potential health benefits, it can give you.
4. Do I need to get vaccinated for COPD?
Technically, there are no vaccines to prevent you from developing COPD. However, if you are diagnosed with it, your weak lungs may be susceptible to secondary infections like pneumonia. Therefore, getting flu and pneumococcal shots; as well as practicing good hygiene, are essential for prevention. Your family members should also do the same.
5. Are there other ways I can improve my lung health and live better with COPD?
Many COPD patients feel better by practicing breathing exercises. Living with COPD may make you feel down and isolated. Finding support groups and communities can help you connect with other individuals for emotional and physical support.
Sunshine’s Living Well Workshop series is a chronic disease self-management program; that offers various methods and ways of making life with COPD more tolerable. Learn more about it here.
Image attribution: Appointment by Army Medicine from Flickr is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC by 2.0)