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COPD - what to ask your doctor

What to ask your doctor about COPD; Emphysema - what to ask your doctor; Chronic bronchitis - what to ask your doctor; Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease - what to ask your doctor

 

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) damages your lungs. This can make it hard for you to get enough oxygen and clear carbon dioxide from your lungs. While there is no cure for COPD, you can do many things to control your symptoms and make your life better.

Below are some questions you may want to ask your health care provider to help you take care of your lungs.

Questions

 

What will make my COPD worse?

  • How can I prevent things that can make my COPD worse?
  • How can I prevent getting a lung infection?
  • How can I get help quitting smoking?
  • Will fumes, dust, or having pets make my COPD worse?

What are some signs that my breathing is getting worse and I should call the provider? What should I do when I feel I am not breathing well enough?

Am I taking my COPD medicines the right way?

  • What medicines should I be taking every day (called controller drugs)? What should I do if I miss a day or a dose?
  • Which medicines should I take when I am short of breath (called quick-relief or rescue drugs)? Is it OK to use these drugs every day?
  • What are the side effects of my medicines? For what side effects should I call the provider?
  • Am I using my inhaler the right way? Should I be using a spacer? How will I know when my inhalers are getting empty?
  • When should I use my nebulizer and when should I use my inhaler?

What shots or vaccinations do I need?

Are there changes in my diet that will help my COPD?

What do I need to do when I am planning to travel?

  • Will I need oxygen on the airplane? How about at the airport?
  • What medicines should I bring?
  • Who should I call if I get worse?

What are some exercises I can do to keep my muscles strong, even if I cannot walk around very much?

Should I consider pulmonary rehabilitation?

How can I save some of my energy around the house?

 

 

References

Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) website. Global strategy for the diagnosis, management, and prevention of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: 2018 report. goldcopd.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/GOLD-2018-v6.0-FINAL-revised-20-Nov_WMS.pdf. Accessed November 20, 2018.

Macnee W, Vestbo J, Agusti A. COPD: pathogenesis and natural history. In: Broaddus VC, Mason RJ, Ernst JD, et al, eds. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 43.

Text only

 
  • COPD inhaler

    COPD inhaler

    Animation

  •  

    COPD inhaler - Animation

    Inhalers of one kind or another are often the mainstay of asthma therapy. I'm Dr. Alan Greene and let's talk about how to actually use an inhaler. When someone is first handed an inhaler, their first instinct is often to put their mouth around the opening and to squeeze. But it turns out when you do it that way, you'll often end up with a lot of the medicine inside your mouth, on your tongue, on the roof of your mouth, inside the cheeks. You get less medicine down into the lungs where it is needed. It tastes bad. And if it happens to be one of the preventative kinds of medications, it could actually lead to thrush or yeast in the mouth. Something else that's worth noting. An even better way to use an inhaler is with a spacer. We especially recommend this for kids, but it's better for adults, too. And the way the spacer works, you don't have to be coordinated. You don't have to time it perfectly. You can put the spacer into your mouth and you squirt the medicine into the spacer and just breathe in and out normally for a while so the medicine keeps coming in. Now what ever you use, whether it's a straight inhaler or the spacer, there's a recent change that's worth being aware of. For a long time, asthma inhalers were propelled by CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) that caused some problems with global warming and ozone depletion. Those have now been replaced or are being replaced with something called HFA instead. And that's great for the environment, but it is a little bit clumpier. So it's important the little place where the medicine comes out of, you may need to clean off on an albuterol kind of inhaler, whether you are using a spacer or using directly into your mouth.

  • COPD inhaler

    Animation

  •  

    COPD inhaler - Animation

    Inhalers of one kind or another are often the mainstay of asthma therapy. I'm Dr. Alan Greene and let's talk about how to actually use an inhaler. When someone is first handed an inhaler, their first instinct is often to put their mouth around the opening and to squeeze. But it turns out when you do it that way, you'll often end up with a lot of the medicine inside your mouth, on your tongue, on the roof of your mouth, inside the cheeks. You get less medicine down into the lungs where it is needed. It tastes bad. And if it happens to be one of the preventative kinds of medications, it could actually lead to thrush or yeast in the mouth. Something else that's worth noting. An even better way to use an inhaler is with a spacer. We especially recommend this for kids, but it's better for adults, too. And the way the spacer works, you don't have to be coordinated. You don't have to time it perfectly. You can put the spacer into your mouth and you squirt the medicine into the spacer and just breathe in and out normally for a while so the medicine keeps coming in. Now what ever you use, whether it's a straight inhaler or the spacer, there's a recent change that's worth being aware of. For a long time, asthma inhalers were propelled by CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) that caused some problems with global warming and ozone depletion. Those have now been replaced or are being replaced with something called HFA instead. And that's great for the environment, but it is a little bit clumpier. So it's important the little place where the medicine comes out of, you may need to clean off on an albuterol kind of inhaler, whether you are using a spacer or using directly into your mouth.

    A Closer Look

     

    Talking to your MD

     

    Self Care

     

    Tests for COPD - what to ask your doctor

     
       

      Review Date: 11/3/2018

      Reviewed By: Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, MHS, Paul F. Harron Jr. Associate Professor of Medicine, Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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