What Is a COPD Action/Management Plan?
I think COPD action/management plans are a neat idea for all COPDers. They help you manage your COPD on a daily basis. They help you decide what to do when your symptoms change. They also guide others when you need help. Here’s what to know.
What are COPD action and management plans?
It's a plan you put in writing. You work on creating them with your doctor. A plan should entail one single sheet of paper. On one side should be your COPD Management Plan. On the other side should be your COPD Action Plan. Its location should be easy to find for you or anyone trying to help you. A good place to keep it is on your refrigerator or bedside table. Anyone who spends time with you should be aware of this plan and where it is located.
It tells you what to do every day to manage your COPD. It should include a list of medicines you take every day, doses, and when to take them. Oxygen is considered a medicine. So, it should be listed too. You should write down how much you use. A common prescription is for 2LPM by nasal cannula. You should also write down when you use it. For example, I wear it only at night, or I wear it with activity, or I wear it 24 hours a day. This is all information to help you manage your COPD on a daily basis. It’s also good information for others to know in case you need help.
The plan should also include basic information about you, such as your height and weight. You should note any other diagnosis’s, such as diabetes or anxiety. It should include latest test results, such as your latest PFT results. It can even include your normal resting oxygen saturation or oxygen levels. Of course, this is all if you know this information. Your doctor can help you know what information to write down. Again, this is all information that can help paramedics and doctors if you need them.
One other thing that is very important. Be sure to write down the names and numbers of your doctors. Also write down the names and numbers of your caregivers, such as your son or daughter. These are your emergency contacts in case you need to call for help. They are also helpful if someone needs to call for help on your behalf.
It’s a plan to help you decide what to do if you feel symptoms. Or, it helps you decide what to do if your symptoms are worse than what is normal for you. For instance, you are more short of breath or coughing more than what is normal for you. It also helps others decide what actions to take on your behalf, should the need arise.
COPD Action Plans consist of three zones based on symptoms you may feel or signs anyone can see.
- Green. You are having a good COPD day. You feel like you do on a typical day. You are able to do your typical daily activities. You feel like your normal self. To others, you look like your normal self.
- Yellow. You are coughing more than usual. You are bringing up more sputum than usual. You are more short of breath than usual. You feel like you have a cold. You feel like you are unable to do your typical daily activities. Or, you feel you need to rest more than usual. Another key indicator here is using your rescue medicine more than you normally do. Or, your rescue medicine isn’t working as well as it normally does. You may also be coughing up unusual colored sputum, such as brown or red. You may have swollen ankles or more swelling than what is normal for you. Overall, you are not feeling your normal self. To others, you may or may not look like your usual self.
- Red. You are having severe COPD symptoms. You are unable to sleep or lie down. You need to lean on things to breathe. You are unable to do any activities. You are abnormally sleepy. You speak in short, choppy sentences. Your chest and stomach are being sucked in when you inhale. Other people can see that you don’t look right.
Your doctor can help you define each zone and what actions to take depends on what zone you are in. For instance:
- Green Zone. Continue your normal activities. This includes both your activity level and your medication regimen.
- Yellow Zone. Your doctor may suggest taking your rescue medicine every 4-6 hours. A plan may have you start taking oral steroids and/or antibiotics. Rest and use your oxygen as prescribed. Your doctor may recommend you call him. He or she might have other suggestions to help you.
- Red Zone. Seek immediate medical attention. Have someone drive you to the emergency room. Or, call 911.
Using action plans to prepare
What to make of this? The goal is to prevent symptoms on a daily basis. But, if you feel symptoms, it acts as a guide to help you decide what actions to take. It can also be used by others wishing to help you. So, it’s a neat tool. I think everyone with COPD should have one.
For sample COPD Action/ Management plans, check out the references below. And of course, if you have a COPD Action/ Management Plan let us know in the comments below.
Do you have questions about your COPD diagnosis?