115 Lethbridge St, Penrith
(02) 4729 5100
If you (or a family member) have been recently diagnosed with COPD there are things you can do to help manage your symptoms to improve your overall quality of life. Tindale Family Practice has outlined some strategies to help you stay as healthy and active as possible.
Reducing your exposure to dust, gas, chemical fumes, smoke and air pollution is important – to minimise lung irritation and eliminate a possible cause of your COPD. Your lung capacity is already compromised, so giving your lungs the cleanest air possible reduces the risk of further damage.
If you are a smoker it is important to quit in order to keep your lung functional as optimal as possible. Talk to your doctor about giving up smoking as there are Medicare-covered options and medications to help you quit and battle the cravings. Consider using dedicated services such as Quitline (13QUIT) for additional support and information.
Being overweight can affect your energy levels, mobility and increase your breathlessness. On the contrary, being underweight means you have reduced nutrient stores and tire easily and your muscles (including your breathing muscles) can become weak.
To stay in a healthy weight range, you should:
Anxiety is not uncommon in conditions such as COPD. Relaxation techniques such as yoga can help to reduce anxiety and specific breathing exercises can help manage symptoms.
Assess emotional support – enjoy time with family and friends, or if you don’t have anyone close, talk to your doctor about support groups for individuals with COPD. For improved quality of life, keep occupied with hobbies and activities you love to do.
Get good quality sleep – good sleep hygiene will help you improve your chances of getting to sleep. If you are having trouble with sleep because of your COPD symptoms or anxiety, talk to your doctor about strategies to improve your sleep.
Ensure you are up-to-date with pneumonia and season flu vaccines to reduce your risk of chest infections, which will exacerbate your COPD symptoms.
It is important you can identify early signs of a COPD flare-up, so you can start treatment as soon as possible.
Common symptoms include:
If your symptoms change significantly seek emergency medical advice.
Medicines and inhalers – it is important to take your medicine as prescribed by your doctor, even if you feel well. For maximum benefit, ask your doctor to show you how to use your inhaler and to assist you to get the technique right.
Oxygen therapy – may be prescribed if your COPD is chronic and severe.
If you have any questions about your COPD symptoms or how to improve your general health while living with COPD, make an appointment with your doctor to talk about your concerns. Ask your doctor to assist with a COPD action plan if you don’t already have one in place.
The Tindale Family Practice has a dedicated chronic disease management unit that incorporates a care coordinator and care team that works with allied health professionals as part of managing the patient’s ongoing chronic disease. If you would like to be part of this program contact the clinic to make an appointment.