7 questions to ask your doctor about COPD

Nov. 12, 2017—Being diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can be discouraging. COPD is a term for a group of respiratory illnesses that includes emphysema, chronic bronchitis and nonreversible asthma.

But your doctor can help. With the right treatment plan and support network, COPD can be managed to preserve your quality of life. Here are seven questions to ask your doctor about COPD:

1. What should I do if my COPD gets worse?

Your doctor can tell you what to watch for. Learning these signs and symptoms can help you know how to manage them and stay healthy.

2. Am I using my medication the right way?

If you have an inhaler or nebulizer, ask your doctor if you're using it correctly. And make sure you understand how to take all of your medications.

3. What vaccinations should I get?

Talk to your doctor about getting flu and pneumococcal vaccines. A respiratory infection can be dangerous for someone with COPD.

4. Should I enroll in a pulmonary rehab program?

These programs educate people with COPD about the condition and provide exercises that teach you how to strengthen your breathing muscles. The program may also offer group support. Your doctor can refer you to a pulmonary rehab program in your area.

5. What type of breathing exercises can help me?

Certain breathing exercises can help you reduce shortness of breath. Your doctor may recommend pursed lip breathing or belly breathing, which can help your lungs work more efficiently.

6. What environmental factors can make my COPD worse?

Ask your doctor how you can identify and avoid harmful pollutants which contribute to COPD. People who haven't smoked can get COPD from heavy or extended exposure to lung irritants at home or on the job, such as dust, fumes, chemicals and secondhand smoke.

7. Are genetic factors involved in my COPD?

Genetics may play a role in your COPD diagnosis. The most common genetic risk factor is called "alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency."

Think you have COPD?

Some people think trouble breathing is due to aging, but that's not always the case. Signs and symptoms of COPD include breathlessness, frequent coughing, wheezing and tightness in the chest. COPD affects about 15.7 million Americans and is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Early intervention can help preserve your lung function.

To learn more about COPD, you can read this article.