Manage your Chronic
Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a grouping of lung diseases that include emphysema, chronic bronchitis and chronic asthma. The Lung Foundation Australia estimates that approximately 14% of Australians aged over 40 years have COPD. This number increases to a third of Australians aged 75 years or over.
This disease does not have a cure. However, your local doctor or clinic nurse can help you manage COPD—helping you stay out of hospital and improving your quality of life.
The symptoms of COPD.
As the name implies, it is a type of obstructive and progressive lung disease. Without guidance from a healthcare professional, COPD causes long-term problems with breathing and airflow.
People with COPD, typically suffer or experience:
Breathlessness or shortness of breath
Coughing with phlegm or mucus most days of the week
Regular exposure to work or environmental air pollutants (fumes, dust, smoke, chemicals, etc.)
Left un-managed, a person with COPD increases the risk for a number of health issues. These issues can have an adverse effect on the quality of life. Some of the complications may include:
Chest infections—a common cold can easily lead to a severe infection
Pneumonia—a lung infection that targets the alveoli and bronchioles
Collapsed lung—the lung may develop an air pocket. If the air pocket bursts during a coughing fit, the lung will deflate
Heart problems—the heart has to work extremely hard to pump blood through the lungs
Risks of sedentary lifestyle—as symptoms of COPD progress, many people adjust their lifestyle to avoid symptoms. Cutting back on physical activity to avoid breathlessness leading to a downwards spiral towards even more health problems (e.g. obesity and cardiovascular disease).
Diagnose and manage COPD.
There are some simple steps to help you diagnose and manage COPD:
Book a spirometry test at your medical clinic.
Formulate an Action Plan with your GP and clinic nurse.
Stick to your plan.
While there are symptoms that might indicate that you have COPD, we recommend that you are diagnosed by a trained health professional. Therefore, your first step is to book a spirometry test at your medical clinic. Using a spirometer, a clinic nurse or GP uses the device to measure the volume of air you inhale and exhale. The spirometer determines how effectively air can move in and out of your lungs to diagnose if you have COPD.
Together with your local GP or clinic nurse, formulate your Action Plan. The plan identifies how to manage your health and optimise your medication. Your GP and clinic nurse will help you as much as they can, but it is up to you to follow the plan and reduce your exposure to risk.
A greater chance of a better life.
Lung Foundation Australia suggests that by following your plan, you will have a greater chance of slowing the progression of the disease, helping you stay out of hospital and assist in your efforts to improve your quality of life.
If you would like to learn more or want to develop your own plan, book an appointment today and our friendly GPs and clinic nurses can conduct a spirometry test and guide you through the process.