10 Tips for People Newly Diagnosed With COPD

Erica Sanderson | Apr 29th 2015

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You’ve just been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Now what?  A diagnosis of chronic illness can come with a range of emotions and sudden to-do lists. These proactive tips can help you tackle this challenge and maintain a better quality of life.

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Do your research

Educate yourself about your new condition. Read about the symptoms and stages of COPD. Discover the latest treatments and research. Learn tips and advice for living with COPD. Knowing what to expect in the future and how to handle it can make COPD less scary.

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Tell family & friends

Don’t live with this condition in silence. Tell your loved ones about your diagnosis. They can be of assistance, if need be, and offer you support. It’s also important to tell people so they modify their actions around you, especially if they are smokers.

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Quit smoking

This is the first step all doctors recommend after a COPD diagnosis. It’s critical that you quit smoking if you haven’t already; otherwise your health will deteriorate more rapidly. Smoking also makes it harder to control the condition.

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Make a plan with your doctor

A treatment plan or COPD Action Plan is crucial for maintaining COPD control. Work with your doctor to create a plan that is doable.  Know your treatment options and discuss your concerns and fears with your doctor.

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Create a daily checklist

Have a reminder checklist for your daily medical to-do list, such as taking medication and checking oxygen levels. A checklist will help ease you into the routine until it becomes natural.

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Review your insurance plan

See what is covered under your insurance plan, when referrals are necessary, and any other special exceptions in your policy.  Being familiar with your plan could save you a lot of money, time and headaches in the long run.

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Map out finances

Co-pays and fees can add up. Since COPD is progressive, hospital visits and more intense treatment will be needed down the road. Get in front of this before you’re in the red. Estimate your monthly expenses and see if you’ll need to apply for payment plans or take out loans, and budget accordingly.

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Change your diet

How you eat affects how you breathe. Many people with respiratory conditions avoid dairy because it creates mucous. Consume enough calcium to avoid osteoporosis, a common complication with COPD. Eating healthy can also help you lose weight, reducing pressure on the diaphragm, and improve overall health. Consult with a nutritionist about adjusting your diet.

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Adopt a healthier lifestyle

Think about what you put in your body. Skip the junk food, put the cigarette down, and limit the alcohol. Manage stress by improving your work-life balance. Or begin doing yoga or journaling. Work with a respiratory therapist to create an exercise regimen that is appropriate for you.

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Prioritize & revitalize

Figure out what’s really important to you. Dedicate more time to see your family. Take that trip you’ve always dreamed about. Take advantage of the time you have and live to the fullest without regret.