Helpful advice for taking charge
You and your doctor are partners in developing a treatment plan, but you're in charge when it comes to following it. Here's some advice designed to make that easier.
Plan with your doctor
Connect with one of your most valuable allies.
Talking about COPD may not be easy, but it's important that you work closely with your doctor to develop a treatment plan to help manage COPD. When you meet with him or her, don't hold back—share all the symptoms you're experiencing, even if they don't seem connected to your lungs or breathing. It's also important to share your goals. Ask what you can expect from your treatment plan. This way, you'll know if the plan is working.
Your treatment plan is not written in stone; there may be adjustments from time to time, perhaps making dietary changes or adding or changing medications. See your doctor regularly so that he or she can keep track of your health and progress.
Keep digging until you get the COPD information you need.
It's your body, your breathing, and your life, so don't be afraid to ask your doctor questions about your treatment plan until you're satisfied you have the information you need.
- Wondering how a particular COPD medicine may help you? Ask!
- Unsure of exactly how and when to take your COPD medications? Ask!
- Concerned about possible side effects? Ask!
- Thinking about adding an over-the-counter medicine or herbal treatment? Ask!
- Wondering if there are lifestyle changes, breathing techniques, or strength-building exercises that you may do? Ask!
- Wondering about quitting smoking? Ask!
- Questions about your diet? Ask!
Become an active participant in your own health care and work closely with your doctor to find treatments that work best for you.
Get in a groove
Make managing COPD second nature. Get in the habit of taking your medications exactly as prescribed.
If you are new to COPD medications, staying on top of things may seem daunting. But if you stay committed to your treatment plan, managing COPD will hopefully become second nature to you. Here are a few ways to get into a groove as you take care of yourself:
- Make taking your COPD medications a part of your daily habits.
- Keep a day's worth of your COPD medication with you at all times so if something comes up, you can be spontaneous while still sticking to your dosage schedule.
- Stay ahead of your prescription refills—don't wait until you are completely out of your medication. Keep your pharmacy phone number, prescription number, medication name, and dose handy so you can easily call for refills.
Don't think that you're in this alone.
Family and friends can be a great support system when you are living with COPD, but you have to let them know what you need. They can:
- Attend doctors' appointments with you
- Help with cleaning, grocery shopping, and other household chores
- Remind you when you need to take or refill your medications
- Join you for walks or other activities you enjoy
You may also consider joining a COPD support group so that you can spend time with people who really understand what it means to live with COPD.
For example, there are Better Breather's Clubs™ in which members work to help improve the quality of one another's lives by sharing experiences and ideas. Call the American Lung Association at 1-800-LUNG-USA or visit www.lungusa.org to find the meeting nearest you.
Better Breather's Club™ is a trademark of Breathe California of Los Angeles County.