Understanding your COPD diagnosis is important but can feel overwhelming. It’s hard to know where to start and what questions to ask. It is absolutely critical that you ask your doctor the right questions. This will help you stay informed and understand what you can do to maintain your health and to stop your COPD from worsening. Ask your doctor these questions to make sure you’re in the loop concerning your COPD and learn how you can stay as healthy as possible.
What is COPD and What Caused Mine?
Understanding what COPD is and what caused yours plays a big part in ensuring it does not worsen. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a group of lung diseases that make breathing difficult. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the most common conditions under the COPD umbrella. Symptoms can include shortness of breath, chronic coughing, or wheezing. The damage caused is irreversible, therefore it is essential to know what caused your COPD so that it does not progress. COPD is almost always caused by damaging lung irritants to which you’ve been exposed. The number one cause of COPD in the US is smoking. Other irritants include second-hand smoke, dust and debris, air pollution, and chemical fumes. These irritants can be found outside, at home, or at your place of work. It is important to avoid these irritants. If you smoke you should quit immediately.
What Stage is My COPD?
There are four stages of COPD. Knowing the stage of your COPD will help your doctor know specifically how to treat your condition. The severity of your COPD is determined by a spirometry test.
What Can I do to Keep My COPD from Worsening?
Once you know what caused your COPD, you can stop exposure to the irritant immediately. This will help improve your lung health and can keep it from worsening. If you are a smoker, you should quit smoking. If you’ve been exposed to an irritant that you cannot get rid of entirely, you should limit your exposure as much as possible. It is important to stay active and exercise regularly. You and your doctor will work together to find the best plan for your situation. There are breathing exercises and techniques, called Pulmonary Rehabilitation, you can do to improve your breathing muscles. Depending on your stage and condition, your doctor may prescribe oxygen therapy. This helps improve your oxygen intake and can help you live a normal life without feeling breathless.
Do I Need Oxygen Therapy?
Depending on the stage of your COPD you may benefit from oxygen therapy. Through several tests, your doctor will determine whether or not oxygen therapy is right for you. If the results of the tests show that you are not getting enough oxygen, your doctor may recommend oxygen therapy to improve your oxygen levels.
Would Pulmonary Rehabilitation Benefit Me?
If you are responding well to other treatments, your doctor may suggest pulmonary rehabilitation also.
Am I Using my Medication/Oxygen Equipment Correctly?
In order to get the most out of your treatment, make sure you are using your medications and oxygen equipment exactly how it was prescribed. If you feel that your treatment is not working, it could be because you are not using your medications correctly. If you have any questions or concerns whatsoever, it is important that you talk to your doctor as soon as possible.
How Can I Continue Living My Normal Life?
COPD develops slowly and can easily and effectively be managed. Sure, COPD will affect your life, but if you take good care of yourself, follow your doctor's recommendations, and take your medications as prescribed, you can continue living your life as usual.