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Mental and Physical Health With COPD

Last updated: March 2023

You may know what COPD is and that it affects your organs. It can affect your body and mind.

COPD exacerbation triggers

  • Tobacco smoke, wood smoke, smoke in general, mold, mildew
  • Chemicals, pollution, dust, cleaning supplies, candles, air fresheners, perfumes, colognes, lotions, scented products
  • Allergens, animals, birds

What is an exacerbation?

  • Glancing at Google after I typed in COPD exacerbation and just about everything said “worsening of symptoms”. Another said “flare.” I guess that speaks volumes, and yes, that's what it is. 
  • If you think you are having an exacerbation, do see your doctor or go to the ER.

It’s very important that you see your doctor as scheduled. Maybe you aren't feeling well and need to see your doctor.

Things you might want to discuss with your doctor:

  • Concerns about your breathing
  • Exacerbation
  • Overall health
  • Confusion
  • Phlegm: Is there color to it? White, Yellow, Green, Brown, or Red? Is it thick or thin?
  • Retaining fluid: puffy ankles or hands

Talking to your doctor about medications

Your doctor will prescribe the medications that he/she feels will best treat you and your health issues. Do discuss with your doctor if you have any problems with medications.

Reactions to medication, whether over the counter or prescribed, can be serious. However, some may give an upset a minor upset stomach, while others may call it anaphylaxis.

Do you need to go to the ER? Do you have an epi-pen? Discuss these things with your doctor. Maybe it’s time to try something else. Your doctor is the one to decide that.

Oral thrush (Candida) can happen with inhaled medications. That’s why it’s so important to rinse well after each use. You can see photos of oral thrush on the internet.

However, it isn’t always that way; sometimes, it can go down your throat. A common medication that is prescribed is called Nystatin.

For me, it has a pleasant taste. Its nickname is Swish and Spit because that’s how you use it. You swish it around your mouth and then spit it out.

Spiriva was my wonder drug. The possible side effects look scary. I didn’t have any problems, and it did well for me for many years.

I guess that I’m saying, if it’s prescribed, try it. If you are concerned, discuss it with your doctor and possibly with your pharmacist.

Issues with your weight

Have you been gaining weight? Losing weight? Staying the same?

Are you concerned about your weight? Do you think seeing a nutritionist would be beneficial? Insurance or Medicare may or may not pay.

Getting exercise

This is so very important, you need exercise to keep your body strong so that you can do things. Most importantly it is to help you breathe.

Ask your doctor if he has recommendations for you regarding the types of exercises you should do. YouTube has so many choices, as well.

Your doctor would likely know if there is a pulmonary rehab program in your area. They can do wonderful things.

Finding support

Support is so important. Your family and friends can be helpful. There are also numerous COPD support sites on the internet. Our community is very supportive, and you can find so much information here.

Often family doesn’t understand what you are going through, and they don’t know how to help. Sometimes they may feel overwhelmed.

It’s helpful if they can find a family support site or a caretaker’s support site. COPD is a family disease and does affect them too.

Friends may stand by you, some may leave. Please share the site with them too. It might help them understand.

They may get frustrated that it affects them too and it may scare them. They might think that they have to change as well.

Maybe there is a Better Breathers support group in your area. This would be wonderful for face-to-face support.

If you are smoking, stop

Never start smoking if you haven’t! This can help to slow the progression of your disease.

There are products that you can get at your local pharmacy. Your local state American Cancer Society might have products that could help you as well.

November 15 is the Great American Smokeout. This is a National Day held by the American Cancer Society to encourage people to stop smoking.

Do you have anything you would add to this list? Let us know in the comments.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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