I've just been
diagnosed with COPD

What do I do now after having been diagnosed with COPD?

 

If you haven’t heard of COPD until now, then being diagnosed with COPD can be frightening and overwhelming. The important thing is to remain calm, realise that you are not alone and learn more about what you can do to help. Regular treatment and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can not only help you manage your symptoms, but also slow the progression of COPD and help you enjoy an active life1-3.

Your COPD checklist

 

There are a number of things you can do that will greatly help you to manage your COPD4,5.

  • Stop smoking
  • Take regular exercise
  • Eat well and maintain a healthy weight
  • Practice breathing and relaxation techniques
  • Learn how to cough effectively
  • Recognise and avoid the factors that trigger flare-ups
  • Have an action plan for flare-ups
  • Take your medications as prescribed
  • See your doctor regularly, even if you feel well, and especially if you have any concerns
  • Find out if you qualify for pulmonary rehabilitation
Close up of mans face contemplating COPD disease progression

Understanding disease progression

COPD is a progressive lung disease categorised into 4 key stages. The symptoms you experience are likely to increase in severity over time but can be managed⁶.

 

Learn more about COPD progression

Seated gentleman playing guitar in the garden whilst receiving oxygen therapy

How can I manage my COPD?

Having a plan in place to manage your COPD is important. Managing your symptoms and lifestyle can help you cope with flare ups and improve your quality of life⁷.


Learn more about managing COPD

COPD flare-ups

Lady experiencing COPD flare-up holding handkerchief to her face

What are they?

Flare-ups are periods when COPD symptoms suddenly get worse and breathing becomes more difficult. They can be triggered by infections or other causes like the weather and stress. You can use breathing techniques and other relaxation methods to avoid flare ups 9-11.
Elderly gentleman using an OptiChamber Diamond spacer while wearing a nasal canula to control flare up of COPD symptoms

What should I do if I have a flare-up?

Firstly, don't panic. This will only make the flare up worse. Follow your prescribed therapy plan and try to relax. If your therapy isn't relieving the symptoms ask somebody to take you to the emergency room, or call 911 if you are really struggling to breath 9, 10.
Gentleman about to start his nebuliser COPD therapy using a Philips InnoSpire Deluxe.

How can I prevent a flare-up?

The most common causes of flare-ups are stress, infections and environmental triggers like air pollution and allergens. It’s vital that you work with your doctor to create an action plan, so you know exactly what to do to treat the symptoms when they surface 9-11.

References

1. Healthline. COPD and You: Managing Your Symptoms.
http://www.healthline.com/health/copd/and-you-symptom-management#1 
Accessed on 10 July 2015.

2. bettersleepandbreathing.com. Exercise and COPD: A GoodCombination. http://www.bettersleepandbreathing.com/post/80221781144/exercise-and-copd-a-good-combination 
Accessed on 20 May 2015.

3. bettersleepandbreathing.com. Eating to Breathe Better. http://www.bettersleepandbreathing.com/post/81409498485/eating-to-breathe-better
Accessed on 20 May 2015

4. COPD Foundation. Staying Healthy and Avoiding Exacerbations. http://www.copdfoundation.org/What-is-COPD/Living-with-COPD/Staying-Healthy-and-Avoiding-Exacerbations.aspx 
Accessed on 3 August 2015.

5. bettersleepandbreathing.com. Minimizing COPD Flareups. http://www.bettersleepandbreathing.com/post/78457078071/minimizing-copd-flareups
Accessed on 3rd August 2015.

6. Healthline. COPD: Symptoms and Stages.
http://www.healthline.com/health/copd/stages#Overview1
Accessed on 6 June 2015.

7. Healthline. COPD and You: Managing Your Symptoms. http://www.healthline.com/health/copd/and-you-symptom-management#1

Accessed on 10 July 2015.

8. American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR). Pulmonary Rehabilitation.
http://www.copdfoundation.org/Portals/0/Files/pdfs/AACVPR-FactSheet.pdf
Accessed on 6 June 2015

9. Web MD. COPD: Handling a Flare-Up - Topic Overview.
http://www.webmd.com/lung/copd/tc/copd-handling-a-flare-up-topic-overview
Accessed on 5 August 2015.

10. Web MD. COPD Flare-Ups - Topic Overview.
http://www.webmd.com/lung/copd/tc/copd-flare-ups-topic-overview
Accessed on 5 August 2015.

11. Healthline. The Link Between COPD Flare-Ups and Stress Management
http://www.healthline.com/health/copd/link-between-flare-ups-stress-management
Accessed on 5 August 2015.