8 Signs To Seek Help for COPD
I wrote a post a while back, "5 Tips when to seek help for asthma." I wrote this post based on my own personal experience as an asthmatic. I have observed, that similar to asthmatics like myself, some people with COPD have a tendency to wait too long before seeking help. If this describes you (or the you of the past), you are definitely not alone. That said, here are 8 tips to help you decide it’s time to seek medical attention.
You start to second guess yourself
Should I call my doctor? Should I take another breathing treatment first to see if that will help? Should I ask my wife/husband/friend to see what he/she thinks? Spending time finding the answers to these questions will only delay proper treatment. If you start doubting yourself, it’s probably time you seek help.
Your symptoms are worse than normal
You’re coughing more, or coughing up more sputum, or coughing up sputum that is a different color that what you usually cough up. Perhaps you notice swelling in your ankles, or perhaps you always have swollen ankles but it’s worse today. Or perhaps you’re feeling anxious today, or more anxious than normal (see #1). These are actually early warning signs that a flare-up is impending. Seeking help now can prevent it from getting worse.
You’re feeling increasingly short of breath or winded
I know I noted this in #2, but I wanted to spotlight it here because it is so important. You are unable to walk, or feel more short of breath when you move around your home than is normal for you. You need to rest frequently when trying to move around. You are talking in short-choppy sentences. These are all classic signs your breathing is getting worse and it’s time to seek help.
You are unable to do things you normally can do
For instance, as noted in #3, you have trouble making your way around your home. Some people might even have trouble doing simple things such as brushing their teeth or even eating. It might be something like you feel you can no longer leave your home when you normally do.
You are experiencing new symptoms
One example here might be new-onset swelling of your lower extremities, such as your feet or ankles. You might experience new-onset shortness of breath, or the feeling of being winded as you move around doing your normal activities. Or, perhaps, you’re feeling chest pain. It could also be something as simple as sniffles and sneezes, or new-onset wheezes.
You’re using more rescue medicine more than normal
You find that you are using your albuterol inhaler with increased frequency during the course of a day. Or, perhaps you’re taking albuterol breathing treatments more often than prescribed. Or, perhaps you’re not using rescue medicine more often than you normally do, but feel like you could benefit from more. Overuse, or the desire to use, your rescue medicine more often than prescribed is a classic sign you should seek help.
The voice in your head says, “Seek help!”
That voice in your head says, “I should do something about this.” But, another voice from deep within says, “Hey, maybe I can wait.” This kind of goes along with #1 on this list, where you are second-guessing yourself. If you even think you should seek help, chances are you probably should.
Someone tells you to seek help
"You don’t look so good, you should probably call your doctor.” Or, “You don’t look so good, I think I should take you to the emergency room.” Or, “We need to call 911.” If you have someone so vigilant that they can see something is wrong with you, it’s a good idea to listen.
It’s never easy deciding to seek help, whether it be calling your doctor, asking a friend or loved one to drive you to the emergency room, or calling 911. It is never easy. However, the earlier you seek help the easier it will be to getting you breathing easier and back on your feet doing the things you enjoy.
Do you have questions about your COPD diagnosis?