Managing your COPD
At Arizona Center for Chest Diseases we know that emphysema, chronic bronchitis, or COPD can have significant impact on your quality of life. We want to help our patients manage their COPD and associated symptoms in a way that optimizes their level of function and minimizes their limitations.
Education— At Arizona Center for Chest Diseases we believe that education is the first step to more fulfilled life. Education is essential to understanding of the disease, how it effects breathing and breathlessness, and establish appropriate expectations. As patients gain understanding, therapy can be used more effectively and expectations are realized. Education and insight come from many sources including your physician, literature, and support groups. We are active in our development and hosting of a local support group associated with the American Lung Association – Arizona, Better Breathers Club, part of Breathe Easy Arizona. Better Breathers meets in our office on the third Thursday of every month to establish community connection, support, and mutual understanding of a common heath issue.
COPD action plan, (CAP)– This becomes a plan or document developed between patients and there physicians to better assess disease severity, activity, and empower patients to make independent treatment decisions in between doctor visits.
Medication– There is a large “formulary” of available oral and inhalational medications which continues to grow every year. Understanding the how, when, and why of these medications helps deepen understanding and more effective management of COPD.
Oxygen– Some patients with more advanced disease may require oxygen. This is a very difficult therapy for many people to accept, but can also add quality of life, mobility, and better symptom control. We answer many questions regarding: qualification for oxygen, working with “durable medical equipment” companies that provide the medication, and facilitate travel with oxygen.
Exacerbations– These are the “flares” in acute symptoms that are unexpected, unpredictable, and compromise quality of life. We recognize the need for prompt response to limit the debilitating symptoms of wheezes, congestion, chest tightness, and cough that can be as mild as limiting social plans or as severe as requiring hospitalization. Appropriate and timely use of antibiotics and even steroids can greatly improve the impact of the exacerbation.
Mucus management— Patients with chronic bronchitis or bronchiectasis may have excessive secretions of mucus in their airways or an ineffective cough (a cough that does not help remove the secretion of mucus from the airways). These patients may benefit from techniques such as postural drainage, positive expiratory pressure therapy, forced expiratory technique, and flutter valve therapy.
Quitting Smoking— At Arizona Center for Chest Diseases we encourage all of our patients to quit smoking and recognize the many hurdles required to succeed. Despite the challenges, cessation is a critical component to COPD management to preserve the existing lung function and limit further decline.
What can you do to help decrease your smoking:
1. Take your doctors advice and encouragement,
2. Nicotine replacement therapy,
3. Various medications and counseling.
The most successful approach to quit smoking is to combine counseling with medication therapy.
Vaccinations— Patients with COPD are particularly sensitive and susceptible to infections. These infections can lead to severe illness and death. Vaccines, when available, can be an effective way to prevent or limit the severity of infection. The annual flu shot is well known for effectiveness in preventing illness. Pneumococcal pneumonia is a community acquired bacteria that can cause life threatening pneumonia. For many years, Pneumovax-23 has been the only vaccine available for pneumococcal pneumonia and has had limited effectiveness. More recently , Prevnar 13 has become available as a newer “pneumonia shot” with greater efficacy and indicated for all patients with chronic lung disease, preventing infection with the most virulent forms of pneumococcal pneumonia.
Nutrition— Optimal nutrition is a critical component to disease management. Many patients with debilitating disease loose their appetite or are unable to maintain a healthy diet. Increase work of breathing changes that way the metabolism uses calories and maintains protein balance. As a result, many patients with severe COPD have protein-calorie deficiencies. This is associated with impaired respiratory muscle function, and compromised immune system. Careful attention to diet, supplements, and appetite stimulation can be helpful.
At Arizona Center for Chest Disease we encourage all or our patients to take the necessary steps to manage their COPD if you want to learn more about COPD or think you may be at risk schedule a visit at Arizona Center for Chest Diseases today.