The COPD Cure!
Over the last 8 years, the most common question I have seen asked by COPD patients undoubtedly would be “is there a cure”? This question is asked by every patient when first diagnosed. It was a question I asked.
The fact is there is no cure for COPD, but there is so much information available for patients. If applied correctly, these can greatly improve their quality of life. A patient friend once said to me “I will not die of COPD, I will die with COPD". I love these words as it acknowledges there is no cure, but also shows you can still have the quality of life with COPD.
Quality of life with COPD
The stage of your disease when you are diagnosed will have a bearing on your quality of life and there is no doubt that the sooner you are diagnosed, the better outcome you will have. I was diagnosed with very severe COPD. My first spirometry showed a lung function of just 22%. Many would think diagnosis with such a low lung function would mean a quick deterioration. In fact, I was told I would need a double lung transplant within 5 years.
Strategies that have helped me with COPD
8 years later, no transplant and an improvement in my lung function have seen my quality of life improve. I haven’t found a cure, but I have found and applied strategies which have helped me. These strategies are not always obvious and sometimes not shared by our respiratory professionals. However, if you have access to the internet, it doesn’t take long to find out the available options for patients.
Proper and effective use of medication
We have a vast array of medications at our disposal which will help keep our disease stable and, in some cases, improve our symptoms. It’s important to talk to your doctor about your medications. What is working, what is not, and any side effects from your medications should be reported to your doctor immediately. Making sure your inhaler technique is correct is important, so you are assured the correct dose. Most importantly, don’t forget to take your medication as prescribed. I know patients who forget to take their medication regularly and suffer increased breathlessness due to this.
Benefits of pulmonary rehabilitation
The benefits of pulmonary rehabilitation have been widely published in the medical literature and yet, is still an underutilized tool. If your doctor hasn’t suggested pulmonary rehabilitation to you, then take it upon yourself to ask if you are suitable. While some patients are not suitable, most are. If access to pulmonary rehabilitation classes is an issue in your area, you may want to explore the growing number of online classes now available. Once you have completed pulmonary rehabilitation classes, it’s important to remember you have to keep exercising. These classes generally last between 6-8 weeks but the benefits can last a lifetime.
Minimizing the impact of COPD
We can’t cure COPD yet, but we can take steps to minimize its impact. Smoking cessation, medication, pulmonary rehabilitation, and other lifestyle changes such as diet can greatly improve your quality of life. We all look forward to the day researchers discover a cure for this horrid disease.
For the time being, adopting the strategies I’ve outlined it is possible you won’t die of COPD, you’ll die with it!
Do you have questions about your COPD diagnosis?