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COPD: Body and Mind

Last updated: January 2023

You may know what COPD is and that it affects your body and mind. Let’s step back.

What is COPD?

  • COPD is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Under the COPD Umbrella

  • Emphysema
  • Chronic Bronchitis
  • Asthma
  • Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, which is the generic form of COPD.

What causes COPD?

  • Household: First-hand tobacco smoke, second-hand tobacco smoke, woodsmoke, cleaning products
  • Outdoors: Air pollution, smoke, mold, chemicals for the pool
  • Workplace: Chemicals, fuel, fumes and dust
  • Health: Asthma, allergies, childhood lung diseases
  • Genetic: Alpha-One antitrypsin deficiency

How COPD affects your body and mind

COPD triggers and these are some things that can trigger an exacerbation:

  • Smoke, mold, mildew
  • Chemicals; pollution, dust, cleaning supplies, candles, air fresheners, perfumes, colognes, lotions, scented products
  • Birds
  • Animals
  • Allergens, allergies

What is an Exacerbation?

  • Glancing at Google after I typed in COPD Exacerbation, just about everything that popped up on the site said “worsening of symptoms." Another said “flare." I guess that speaks volumes.

It’s very important that you see your doctor as scheduled. Things you might want to discuss:

  • Concerns about your breathing

  1. Shortness of breath
  2. Wheezing
  3. Coughing
  4. Exacerbation
  5. Worsening of your condition
  6. Overall Health
  • Lung illnesses, heart, organs

  1. Phlegm:
    • Is there color to it?  White, yellow, green, brown or red?
    • Is it thick or thin?
    • Ask your doctor if he needs a sputum culture. That is where you spit into a cup and they test a culture from your sputum.
  • Retaining Fluid

  1. Puffy ankles, toes, hands, fingers, face and more
  • Medications:

  1. Your doctor will prescribe the medications that they feel will best treat you and each of your health issues.
  2. Do discuss with your doctor, any problems you have with medications.
  • Allergies and/or reactions to a medication, whether it's an over the counter medication or prescribed can be serious. You must be prepared.

  1. Some may give an upset a minor upset stomach
  2. Others may cause 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.
  3. Oral thrush (Candida) 
  4. 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.
  5. Plain yogurt helps as a preventative and can sometimes get rid of the thrush.
  6. Gargling with peroxide can sometimes help clear out the new thrush.
  7. However, sometimes it goes down your throat.
  8. 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.There is a pill form as well.  
  9. 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 with your doctor and possibly with your pharmacist.
  • Weight:

  1. Are you gaining weight? Losing weight? Staying the same?
  2. Do you have a concern about your weight?
  3. Do you think seeing a nutritionist would be beneficial? Insurance may or may not pay cover. Do check this out, unless you are willing to pay cash.
  • Exercise:

  1. This is so very important, you need this to keep your body strong, so that you can do things, most importantly it is to help you breathe.
  2. Ask your doctor if he has recommendations for you of the types of exercises you should do. YouTube has so many.
  3. Ask your doctor if there is a Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program that he would recommend. 
  • Support:

  1.  Support is so important.
    • Your family and friends can be helpful.
    • There are numerous COPD support sites on the internet. The site that you are on is a support site. Do share this site with others, it might help them as well. It is for everyone 18 and older.
    • 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. Share the site with them too. It might help them understand. They might get frustrated that it affects them too, it might scare them. They might think that they have to change as well.
  • I saved the most important for last, so that it’s remembered!

Stop smoking! Never ever ever start smoking, if you haven’t that is! By quitting, you can possibly help to slow the progression of your disease.Your local pharmacy might have products to help you quit smoking. Do check with your local, state "American Cancer Society". They might have products that could help you as well.

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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 COPD.net 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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