4 Tips For Working With COPD
Last updated: March 2021
If possible, it’s a good idea to keep working despite COPD. Certainly COPD can pose some problems in the workplace. But, working is great for your financial, mental, and physical health. Here are some tips for continuing to work despite a diagnosis of COPD.
Tips for working with COPD
1. Stick to your COPD control plan.
Ideally, you and your doctor will work together as a team to manage your COPD. A COPD Action plan may be devised to help you determine what actions to take when you’re feeling symptoms. It may also involve taking medicines every day to prevent symptoms.
Of course, it may also entail having rescue medicine on hand at all times to relieve symptoms when they occur. For example, your doctor may recommend having rescue medicine like albuterol nearby at all times, and this includes at your work.
Working with your doctor, and sticking with your prescribed COPD regimen, is the best first step to continuing to work despite having COPD.
2. Talk to your doctor.
Your doctor can help you decide when to go back to work following flare-ups. Your doctor can also help you decide if you should continue working.
Some jobs expose you to smoke, dust, fumes, vapors, and gases. These are are substances that may be responsible for causing COPD. They may also trigger COPD. So, your doctor may recommend you not work in such environments.
Your doctor may have other suggestions to help you best function at work with COPD. Your doctor can help you decide if it’s time to retire.
3. Talk to your boss.
Some people can continue to function at work as normal. However, some people with COPD are limited in some of their abilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that your boss accommodate for any special needs you have. This is within limits, of course.
Still, most bosses are more than willing to help you out if they can. This may include allowing you to sit rather than stand. It may include allowing you to take extra breaks to rest and take medicine. It may include transferring you to another position. It may include holding your spot when you can’t work due to flare-ups. Your boss may also allow you to work 2-3 days a week as opposed to full time.
So, there are various accommodations an employer can make for you. This begins by starting that discussion with you boss.
4. Talk to your coworkers.
You’ll definitely need support from others along your journey. So, it’s also a good idea to keep your co-workers informed with how you’re doing.
It’s probably best that all your co-workers are informed about your COPD. But, many times this isn’t possible nor is it comforting to inform every person that you have a disease. Still, it’s probably a good idea to have at least one person that you feel comfortable confiding with.
This person should know you have COPD and become familiar with your COPD Action Plan.
Support from an informed co-worker this way can come in handy. Such a person may spot when it’s time for you to take a break, or to take the rest of the day off. They can also help you decide when it’s time to seek help if you need it.
So, it’s definitely a good idea to keep at least one of your coworkers informed.
How to move forward with work and COPD
Many people with COPD are able to continue working despite their diagnosis. Some may be able to continue working without making any major adjustments. However, many others may have to make some changes to their work environment. Still, there are others who may find it best to quit their day jobs or retire. Learning how to best manage work and COPD begins with a discussion with your COPD doctor.
Do you know the difference between a COPD exacerbation and lung function decline?
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