Diaries Aren't Just for Kids!
Journaling can be very therapeutic for anyone. When it comes to managing COPD, keeping a diary/journal is very important. Different from a regular diary, a COPD diary is one that you write in daily and record all sorts of different things when it comes to your breathing and your COPD. Here are some things you can keep track of:
Write down any and all symptoms you have during the day and keep track of the time of day you experienced them. If you have an amazing symptom-free day, be sure to note that as well! If it is easier to track in chart form, you can make a dedicated symptom chart where you fill in boxes or make check marks next to specific symptoms on each day. Some symptoms you might include are: shortness of breath, wheezing, chest tightness, cough, fatigue, sleep disturbances, pain, and so on.
Medications and Oxygen
Write down the time you take your daily medications. Also include any rescue medication that you took that day and the time. If you are on oxygen, note if you have to increase or decrease your liter flow at any time (depending on what your doctor recommends off course.)
If you do any activity or exercise, not matter how small write it down. You may want to add if you were able to do the activity with or without breathing difficulty.
At the end of the day, record on a scale of one to ten (ten being a bad COPD day) how your COPD was overall for that day. If you had trouble performing daily tasks more than usual, give an appropriate number for that day. A fantastic COPD day would have a score of 1 and a very bad COPD day would have a score of 10.
Write down what you have to eat for each meal including snacks if it is recommended to do so by your doctor. This is especially important if you are tracking calorie intake.
Air quality and allergens (such as pollen) in the air can make it very hard to breathe. It would be a good idea to jot down if the air quality reports for that day are bad to see if there is any correlation to your COPD symptoms.
In this section you can write down any notes you have from each day etc. Include any questions or concerns that you want to mention to your doctor the next time you see him or her. You can add any lab test or lung function test results that you may have.
These are only a few suggestions of things to keep track of in a COPD diary. You can personalize it as much or as little as you want! If keeping a paper diary isn't your thing, you can make one using the notes section on your smart phone or computer. When you have your appointments with your doctor, bring your journal and share it with them. It takes the guesswork out of having to remember things because it will all be down on paper (or electronically.) Your doctor (or Respiratory Therapist) will be quite impressed! As you are going along with keeping the COPD diary you will probably start to notice trends with your breathing and hopefully be able to correlate the cause and try to avoid it or know what steps to take to minimize the effects that it has on your breathing.
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