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COPD - what to ask your doctor

Definition

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) damages your lungs. This can make it hard for you to get enough oxygen. While there is no cure for COPD, you can do many things to control your symptoms and make your life better.

Below are some questions you may want to ask your doctor or nurse to help you take care of your lungs.

Alternate Names

What to ask your doctor about COPD; Emphysema - what to ask your doctor; Chronic bronchitis - what to ask your doctor; Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease - what to ask your doctor

Questions

What will make my COPD worse?

  • How can I prevent getting a lung infection?
  • How can I get help quitting smoking?
  • Will fumes, dust, or having pets make my COPD worse?

What are some signs that my breathing is getting worse and I should call the doctor? What should I do when I feel I am not breathing well enough?

Am I taking my COPD medicines the right way?

  • What drugs should I be taking every day (called controller drugs)? What should I do if I miss a day?
  • Which drugs should I take when I am short of breath (called rescue drugs)? Is it okay to use these drugs every day?
  • What are the side effects of my medicines? For what side effects should I call the doctor?
  • How will I know when my inhalers are getting empty? Am I using my inhaler the right way? Should I be using a spacer?

What shots or vaccinations do I need?

Are there changes in my diet that will help my COPD?

What do I need to do when I am planning to travel?

  • Will I need oxygen on the airplane? How about at the airport?
  • What drugs should I bring?
  • How do I get prescription refills?
  • Who should I call if I get worse?

What are some exercises I can do to keep my muscles strong, even if I cannot walk around very much?

How can I save some of my energy around the house?


Review Date: 11/12/2012
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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