How to Cope With a COPD Diagnosis
A COPD Diagnosis can feel overwhelming (very great in amount) , for both patients and caretaker. What’s your next step and which treatments are right for you?You thought that climbing the stairs or throwing a ball with the kids was getting harder because of age. Now you know otherwise. COPD is an incurable disease that slowly kills healthy lung tissue. COPD Diagnosis by a lung function test, called Spirometry that you should know but you don’t know because of ignorance or other things.
For this test, you blow air into a mouthpiece and tubing attached to a small machine. The machine appraise the quantity of air you blow out (be extinguished by an air current) and how fast you can blow it. Your doctor will also ask for a complete health history and do a health exam. They may also want you to have a chest X-ray and/or other tests, according to the American Lung Association.
Your Treatment Plan:Depending on how advanced your condition is, your doctor may advise you to use a short-acting bronchodilator or inhaled corticosteroids to manage symptoms of COPD. Bronchodilators relax the respiratory tract’s smooth muscle. Inhaled corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory agents, which reduce swelling in your airways.
Both medicines open airways in your lungs, allowing more air to pass through. That means you can breathe easier and are less winded. Your doctor may also advise you to get an annual flu and pneumonia shot. “Because the respiratory system is damaged and those illnesses compromise the lung’s ability to function normally, flu and pneumonia are tough for a patient with COPD to fight off or recover from,” Dr. Ohar says.
And if you don’t quit smoking, “expect a gradual increase in intensity and frequency of their symptoms of COPD,” she says. But if you’ve kicked the habit and take your medicines (like bronchodilators and inhaled corticosteroids), your symptoms of COPD may not get worse, Dr. Thomashow says. In fact, if your COPD Diagnosis in the early stages, you may not have to make significant lifestyle changes.
Managing Your COPD :Here are some other steps to help maintain your quality of life:
Go to rehab after COPD Diagnosis. Ask your doctor about pulmonary rehabilitation, a structured program that will not change lung function but will improve your quality of life and decrease the need to visit your doctor. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, pulmonary rehab doesn’t replace medical therapy. Instead, it’s used with it and may include:
- Exercise training
- Nutritional counseling
- Education on your lung disease or condition and how to manage it
- Energy-conserving techniques
- Breathing strategies
- Psychological counseling
Pulmonary rehab often is an outpatient program based in a hospital or clinic. Some patients also can receive it in their homes.
Join a support group after COPD Diagnosis. Groups such as the “Better Breathers” club, an American Lung Association-sponsored support group, are offered through most hospitals.
Get moving. If your COPD is managed with medicines and/or pulmonary rehabilitation, activities such as regular walks, riding a bike, doing martial arts or similar aerobic activities can help improve airflow. “Aerobic exercise strengthens lungs, making them better able to breathe in air and blow it out,” Dr. Thomashow says.
Watch your weight after COPD Diagnosis. It’s easier to move around without getting winded if you’re at a healthy weight. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats and fiber-filled foods helps you keep the pounds off and will take some pressure off your lungs. Talk to your doctor about your daily calorie intake and ask for a nutritional consultation, which may be done in the office or through your local hospital, to plan out a healthy weekly menu, says Dr. Thomashow.
Partnering with Your Doctor :Working with your doctor also limits COPD’s effect on your life. The following is what to expect at doctor’s visits, which may be every six months to once a year, depending on the severity of symptoms of COPD.
- Review. Even if he’s been treating you for years, your doctor will review your overall medical and COPD history. Bring a list of all the medications you take to review with your doctor – even if they’re not used to treat your COPD – so you can be sure one isn’t interfering with another.
- Testing for changes. Your doctor will do a breathing test to determine if your disease has progressed and to gauge how well you’re doing with your COPD medication. This test is critical to help your doctor determine which COPD treatment, medicine or combination of drugs are best.
- Describe what’s new. Talk to your doctor about any changes in your breathing or other symptoms of COPD. Explain the amount of exercise you’re able to handle today vs. the amount you could tolerate on your last visit. (Check out these exercises that help improve lung function without giving you trouble breathing.)
Describe side effects. Do you have dry mouth, a common side effect of COPD medications? Tell your doctor. They need to know all side effects your COPD medications may be causing. For example, there are mouth rinses he can prescribe to fight the odor- and cavity-causing bacteria that exists in your mouth when not enough saliva is produced. He may be able to prescribe other medicines with fewer side effects.
Caregiving: Most patients can manage symptoms of COPD with minimal support from a caregiver – usually a spouse or adult child – to make sure they stick to their COPD treatment plan and attend scheduled doctor’s visits, says Thomas Kallstrom, an associate executive director and chief operating officer of the American Association for Respiratory Care, a professional organization based in Irving, Texas.
Here’s how caregivers can help patients with COPD diagnosis:
Keep your ears open:Listen to “little” things the patient says about how they feel. This will help you spot any subtle changes in symptoms of COPD or if they’ve stopped taking their prescribed COPD medications.
Be watchful:Look for changes in symptoms of COPD, such as increased difficulty breathing, coughing or spitting up clear mucus. Any of these signs mean the disease may be progressing. They need to see the doctor.
Be educated:It’s important you understand COPD and how to manage it properly. Consult doctors for advice. There are also organizations that can provide information, including:
Be present. Attend pulmonary rehabilitation sessions or Better Breathers classes (offered at many hospitals). This will also help you learn what’s expected of the patien particularly important for caregivers to avoid burnout or stress related to being “on call” for a COPD patient. That’s why you should “exercise daily for at least 30 minutes, eat right, get 7-8 hours of sleep and pay attention to your own body’s needs,” Kallstrom advises. Taking a walk or practicing yoga or meditation daily and scheduling a break at least once a week to have lunch with a friend or go to a movie will relieve stress and make sure you’ve got enough energy to care for your loved one, he says. For more information and disease management tips, visit Lifescript’s COPD Health Center.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is on the rise, according to the National Institutes of Health. More than 12 million people in the U.S. are currently diagnosed with it, and another 12 million may have it but don’t know. Test your COPD IQ with this quiz so you’ll know what you can do to limit the disease’s progression, alleviate worries and put you on the road to living a normal life.Most people with COPD Diagnosis show lung function of just half of what it should be given their age, height and gender, Dr. Ohar says.