November is COPD Awareness Month

Last updated: November 2019

Being aware of what happens to your body when you have COPD can make the difference between living well and living poorly with your chronic illness. One of the first things my doctor told me is, “You are not going to die from COPD, so you better start learning to live with it.”

What is awareness?

According to, awareness is the “knowledge or perception of a situation or fact.” It is having “concern about and well-informed interest in a particular situation or development.”

Who needs to be aware?

Your COPD wellness is 90% your responsibility. To gain awareness of COPD, ask your doctor about a respiratory rehab program. Ask lots and lots of questions during each doctor's appointment. Don’t overlook social workers, aides, and nurses. They can usually do a better job of answering your questions and are more prone to answer in laymen's terms.

How can I connect with other COPD patients?

Join a support group. Connect with others who have COPD. In-person is often more personal and if you can’t find a support group, why not start one? Don’t overlook online support groups and watch lots of YouTube videos to help you understand and be more aware of what is happening to our bodies. Connect with your community through social media, your local Lung Association or look for a Better Breather’s club.

Who else needs to be aware?

The other 10% of your COPD wellness comes from caregivers. If you are having a hard time asking for your needs to be met, then your caregivers and family need to increase their awareness. Failure to do this usually means that you need to be pro-active and look elsewhere for support. Eventually, you will need to surround yourself with only those that care for your best well being.

When does awareness start?

Awareness must start at the beginning of your diagnosis. Since this is your COPD and everyone with COPD is just a little bit different in their illness, you must know more about your illness than any doctor. Consider starting a journal to track the triggers that exacerbate your symptoms. It's interesting to know that weather affects your symptoms and so on a rainy cold day, it is time for you to take it easy. Keeping track and bringing this information to your doctor appointments gives them evidence-based proof of what happened and why your symptoms changed. This allows both of you to use your 15 minutes to its best advantage.

Why do we need to be aware?

Being aware of your symptoms and the reaction of your body to other external conditions is of extreme importance. Be conscious of what is happening to your body, allowing for rest when it is needed and for daily exercise. This not at time for rigid schedules but time to answer to what your body's needs are. Being aware will help you to know what your body needs and when it needs something.

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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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