Making a COPD plan starts with talking to your doctor
Finding the right COPD treatment and learning what else you can do to breathe better can help you create a personal COPD plan and may help you live a healthier life.
What you say matters
Speaking openly and frankly with your doctor is key. It can help your doctor assess your symptoms and better understand how COPD affects your particular lifestyle. By understanding the “whole you,” you and your doctor can create a treatment plan that not only manages your symptoms but also helps you stay involved in the things that matter to you.
5 things to talk about with your doctor
As you manage your COPD every day, thoughts may come and go about what you want to ask your doctor during your visit, and it’s easy to forget all you want to say.
Before your next visit, write down your notes in these 5 key areas:
Any changes in your breathing or COPD symptoms, or if you have had any flare-ups. Every detail counts. To help keep track, consider using a symptom tracker app you can download to your smartphone.
Any hospitalizations or visits to the ER or Urgent Care due to breathing difficulties. You may also want to make a note of any tests or evaluations, or if you were prescribed any medication during your stay.
How COPD is affecting your life. Are your symptoms getting in the way of your daily activities, your hobbies, your relationships, and things you love to do?
How you are managing your COPD medication routine. Do you take your medications exactly as prescribed? Are you using your rescue inhaler more than usual? Are there other COPD treatments you want to ask about?
Other health conditions or medical information. Do you have or were you recently diagnosed with other health conditions? Did you have any diagnostic or lab tests? If so, what were the results? List any other prescription medicines, supplements, or OTC medicines you’re taking.
Primary care physicians (PCPs)
Most likely the first to diagnose COPD, your PCP is a medical doctor who helps coordinate your COPD treatment plan and puts together your treatment team of specialists.
Doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating people with lung conditions like COPD.
They prepare and process your prescriptions and also help ensure that your medications are right for you. Your pharmacist may also check to make sure you are taking your medication exactly as prescribed.
Specialists who work in hospitals or pulmonary rehab clinics, and sometimes work with patients in their homes. They can help teach you how to take your inhaled medications, evaluate your breathing, and make recommendations regarding treatments.
Working closely with your doctor, nurses are involved in all stages of care. They may ask you questions and provide helpful information about your symptoms, your treatment routine, and your breathing goals.
Helping your team help you
Each member of your healthcare team plays a role in your health and well-being, and they all need a lot of the same information. You can do your part by keeping them up to date about your COPD and your general health.
Each time you visit a member of your team, it may be helpful to bring with you:
- A list of COPD symptoms (describe them in detail)
- Diagnostic and lab test results
- A list of any other health conditions you may have (comorbidities)
- A list of prescriptions, vitamins, supplements, and any over-the-counter medicines you’re currently taking
- Health insurance cards and information
- Names and contact numbers of other specialists on your team
- Caregiver names and contact information, if applicable
Need help organizing and writing down all your information in one convenient place? Download and fill out our Doctor Discussion Guide and bring it with you to every appointment.
If your healthcare providers are in the same healthcare network, they may share information electronically. Just make sure to let them know who your other providers are and when you had your last appointment. This way they can look for your latest healthcare information in their network database system.
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