Four Things All COPD Patients Should Have
Last updated: October 2023
There are 15 million people in the U.S. with a diagnosis of COPD. Each one experiences this disease in unique ways.
Some have mild COPD, while others have it severe. Some rarely experience symptoms, while others experience symptoms daily. Regardless of how you experience COPD, there are four basic things that all people with COPD should have.1
This is based on my 25-plus years of experience taking care of COPD patients in the hospital setting. It was actually one of my COPD patients who gave me this topic idea.
The four essentials all people with COPD need
A great doctor
I suppose this one goes without saying. But you will want to have a doctor who is empathetic and understanding.
Of course, you’ll want to have a doctor who has a good understanding of COPD and is eager to keep up with his COPD education. Someone who is available to see you when you are feeling sick and to guide you on a path to feeling better.
Find a doctor who will take the time to adjust your treatment regimen as needed and explain things in an easy-to-understand manner. Most certainly, a great COPD doctor can go a long way to helping you with all other aspects of living with this condition.
A COPD action plan
So, what do you do if you experience new or worsening symptoms? A COPD action plan is a plan you work on with your COPD doctor.
It is a plan that helps you to determine what actions you should take if you are experiencing new or worsening symptoms. The plan includes things such as: Are you allowed to tweak your medicine regimen? Should you call your doctor? Should you have someone drive you to the ER? Should you or someone around you call 911?
The idea here is that you will want to seek help when needed.
A treatment regimen
Thankfully we live in a time when many great medicinal options are available to you. Finding what medicines work best for you is often said to be a matter of trial and error.
However, COPD treatment may involve much more than just taking medicines. It may include using machines such as CPAP or BiPAP.
It may involve participating in pulmonary rehabilitation. Your great doctor should work with you in helping you to find the best COPD management regimen that works ideally for YOU.
A management plan
So, what are you going to do to keep your COPD in check? If your doctor has prescribed medicines, you’ll need a plan for when you will take them.
You will need some kind of strategy to remind you to take your medicines when they are due. You’ll need a place to store your medicines.
I know some members of this community say they set their phone to alarm when their medicines are due. Some members keep their pills organized in pill organizers or pill boxes.
I had one member recommend that I use a 30-day pill organizer. That way, you only need to organize your pills once a month.
Do you use inhalers? You will want to work with a healthcare person (a nurse, your doctor, or a pharmacist) to learn how to use the proper inhaler techniques.
A good inhaler technique lets you get the most out of the medicines you inhale.
I think it's neat that the 2023 GOLD COPD Guidelines now list COPD as a "heterogenous" disease. That means that it affects each person in unique ways.
For this reason, each of us may respond in different ways to different treatments. What works for one of us may not work for others.
Still, while we are all unique, following these four basic steps should set you on a course to living well and living long despite your diagnosis.2
Where do you stand with your COPD?