What to Expect with a Diagnosis of COPD
Posted on Nov 28, 2016
So, you’ve just been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD. Talk to healthcare provider about the causes of your lung disease and set up a treatment plan that works for you. You need to be proactive in your care. There is not “one size fits all” plan. The most common cause of COPD is cigarette smoking. If you smoke, now is the time to quit and also to not be around family or friends who smoke. Bring family members to appointments with healthcare providers for support to listen and ask questions. Remember two heads are better than one. If something is said you don’t understand-ASK. Your health care provider will ask you many questions about your present illness, your past medical history and your social and family history. It is important to keep an up to date complete list of medicines you are taking, how much and when. Based on all of this information, the healthcare provider will put together the treatment plan. The plan is fluid-it can change as your symptoms change.
Your doctor probably ordered you to undergo some testing before giving you a definitive diagnosis of COPD. A pulmonary function test (breathing test) was done to see how well air moves in and out of your lungs. Another test is pulse oximetry which is when a clothes pin like device is placed on your finger for about 15 seconds. This test shows how well you’re moving oxygen. An arterial blood gas is when blood is drawn from an artery in your wrist, also showing how you move oxygen. This is an indicator if you need supplemental oxygen. Chest x-rays are usually performed to afford the doctor a look at what is going on in your lungs. He/she will also use a stethoscope to listen to your lung sounds.
Upon receiving the diagnosis you may have thought I can’t go anywhere, I need to stay in my home. This is not true. You just need to plan. If you take an MDI (metered dose inhaler), make sure you have your rescue on with you and check how many puffs are remaining. If you use oxygen, check your tank before leaving home or bring your portable concentration which will not run out of oxygen like the tank will. People with COPD can work, enjoy their family and travel with just some planning.