10 Tips to Help You Cope with COPD
Being told you have a lung disease like COPD can be a frightening experience. The idea it’s associated with being short of breath and that it forces you to make lifestyle changes that you probably don’t want to make can be hard to take. Still, there are things you can do to make breathing easier so you can live well with this disease. Here are ten tips to help you cope with COPD.
Find a good doctor
- Develop a good relationship with your doctor. It all begins by finding a good doctor, one who works well for you, one you feel comfortable talking to. If this is not the case with your present doctor, it may be time for a change. There are many doctors out there, and it’s important you find one who is right for you.
- Be honest with your doctor. There are certain things we don’t feel comfortable talking about with anyone, including our doctors. A perfect example here is feelings of anxiety or depression, which are common among the COPD community. If you have these feelings, the best thing you can do is tell your doctor so you can get the help you need. So, if you don’t feel right, be sure to share it with your doctor.
Prioritize your treatment plan
- Be compliant with your treatment regimen. You and your doctor will become a team, and your goal will be to keep you breathing easy. This may entail taking medicine every day and wearing oxygen. It may entail wearing a breathing machine (like CPAP and BiPAP) at night. It may also entail participating in a pulmonary rehabilitation program. These are all meant to prevent flare-ups and make them less severe when they do occur.
- Develop a COPD Action Plan. The ultimate goal of a COPD treatment regimen is to prevent flare-ups. Still, sometimes they cannot be prevented. It’s important to discuss with your physician what to do when you feel symptoms, and this should entail creating a plan telling you what actions to take and when. Should you take your medicine? Should you tweak your dose? Should you call a friend or relative? Should you call your doctor? Should you call 911? It should all be in the plan.
- Don’t let flare-ups get you down. It’s never easy when you can’t breathe. It’s never fun to make unscheduled doctor visits or to spend time in hospitals. However, there may be times when an inevitable flare-up occurs. Doctors will work their magic to help you get back on your feet again. Then there are things that can be done, such as tweaking your treatment regimen, to get you back on track.
Keep an open mind
- Be open minded about trying something new. If you continue having flare-ups, or if you just don’t feel right, your doctor may recommend tweaking your treatment regimen. This may entail a simple change in dose or frequency of your current medicines, or it may entail trying a new medicine. There are many medicinal options, and new ones are constantly being introduced. Sometimes the simplest path to breathing easy is the open mindedness to try something new.
- Educate yourself about your disease. The more you know about your disease the better equipped you will be to cope with it. My personal recommendation is for you to read at least one book on your disease, like COPD for Dummies, just so you can get basics down. Then you’ll want to keep up to date on all the latest, and the best way of doing this is by hanging out in COPD communities like ours.
- Hang out at sites like ours. There are so many advantages to hanging out at communities like ours. You will not only have access to all the latest wisdom about your disease, but you’ll learn right away when new medicinal options become available. You will also meet other people living with it just like you, along with experts offering tips and advice, to provide you the support you need to cope.
- Join a pulmonary rehabilitation program. I cannot say enough about pulmonary rehabilitation programs, as there are many benefits to them. Pretty much, this entails everything listed in tips 1-8 and lots more. Such programs entail working with COPD experts who teach you everything you need to know about coping with this disease. So, if there is such a program in your area, we highly recommend it.
- Keep a positive attitude. As a respiratory therapist of nearly 20 years experience, I have met many people with COPD, many of whom have gone on to stay active and have very productive lives. One of my patients recently told me she does not like having COPD, but she understands that God has a mission for her, so she is thankful for every moment she is alive, and will continue to make the most of every one of those moments. Whether you believe in God or not, a positive attitude can go a long way to helping you cope with this disease.
Do you live with any sleep disorders (eg. insomnia, RLS, sleep apnea) in addition to COPD?