Diagnosing, Controlling and Monitoring Your COPD: A Guide
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a long-term, serious lung disease that can refer to either emphysema or chronic bronchitis. Although a COPD diagnosis is a scary and serious thing, monitoring your COPD and seeking treatment early can help. Therefore, if you think you might have COPD, it is essential to seek medical assistance as soon as possible. If you have this serious lung disease, monitoring your COPD is essential.
Early Symptoms of COPD
It is important to see a doctor right away if you think you might have COPD, so make sure that you watch out for these symptoms so that you can get the help that you need right away.
- If you have a frequent, chronic cough that just won't go away
- An excess of mucus or phlegm in your throat
- Feeling short of breath, especially when participating in physical activity
The Various Stages of COPD
One essential part of monitoring your COPD is determining which of the four stages your lungs are at currently. Doctors use a combination of two methods to both monitor your condition and determine the level of severity of your COPD.
First, they look at your symptoms. If you only suffer from a minor chronic cough, you are probably currently in stage one of COPD. The levels increase based on the severity of your symptoms and the number of symptoms that you suffer from, and level four, which is the most serious, involves a severe cough, weight loss, fluid build-up in your legs and feet, a blue skin tone and other serious issues.
Symptoms are not the only thing used when monitoring your COPD, however. Doctors also use a test known as a lung function FEV1, which involves measuring how long it takes you to breathe air out of your lungs.
Monitoring and Controlling Your COPD
Although there is no cure for COPD, there are things that you can do to stay healthy and safe with your condition. Seeing a physician regularly is an essential, but there are steps you can take yourself to help control your condition. Here are a few things that you can do to control your COPD after your diagnosis:
- Quit smoking. The most important thing that you can do for your health is to stop using tobacco. This is essential, no matter how long you have been smoking.
- Increase your physical activity level. Exercise is essential.
- Avoid things that can trigger COPD flare-ups. Indoor or outdoor air pollution, hot or cold weather and other factors can cause flare-ups and make it much more difficult for you to breathe. By avoiding extremely hot or cold conditions, keeping the air in your home as pollutant-free as possible and avoiding other triggers can help prevent dangerous flare-ups.
- Breathe carefully. By talking to your physician, you can learn ways to breathe more air into your lungs and to do it more easily.
- Take medication. Your physician can write you a prescription for medication that can assist you in coping with the symptoms of COPD.
- Seek surgery. In some cases, surgery can help; talk to your physician to find out more about your options.
Things to Monitor and Talk to Your Doctor About
If you have COPD, it is important to see your doctor regularly. Here are a few things to keep an eye on and to mention to your physician at your next appointment:
- Have you been having a more difficult time breathing lately, or have things been getting better? Noticing such things can help your doctor determine if your current treatments are working properly.
- Are there any triggering factors that make your COPD symptoms worse or that cause flare-ups? If so, write down what these triggers are.
- Have you been suffering from new symptoms? If so, your doctor needs to know.
Although a COPD diagnosis is not pleasant, learning how to manage the disease can help you live a happier, healthier lifestyle, regardless of your lung condition.