Questions You Should Ask Your Doctor After a COPD Diagnosis
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a medical complication comprising various lung conditions, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema, which induces chronic coughs and difficulty breathing. You might be less likely to know about the disease, but 16 million Americans have the condition, with women being 37% more likely to develop it.
Even though COPD has no cure, there are effective treatments that can help you live the healthiest life after being diagnosed. To help you find the best way forward, we have compiled the six most important questions you should ask your doctor about the diagnosis and treatment plan.
1. How did you reach my diagnosis?
James Ferguson MD, a pulmonologist at Newport Hospital says COPD is often diagnosed in patients with a history of chronic cough, shortness of breath, and smoking. But symptoms of shortness of breath and cough are not always associated with COPD so, you need to make sure you actually have the condition.
Remember that other heart and lung conditions may explain your symptoms and may require different treatment. A spirometry test is a commonly used option to confirm a diagnosis and can also help the doctor determine which medicines are best for you.
2. How do I take my medication?
Medications for COPD work by using steroids to reduce inflammation or relaxing muscles around the airways, thereby opening the channel to make breathing easier. These are called bronchodilators. If you’re in doubt about the technique of using your inhaler or taking any form of medication provided, ask your doctor to guide you through it.
3. Do I need to get vaccinated?
Viral and bacterial respiratory infections can lead to more serious consequences for patients with COPD. This makes it especially important to get the flu shot every year and ask your doctor if you need the pneumonia vaccine recommended for COPD patients.
4. How can I stop smoking?
Smoking is a major risk factor for developing COPD. Pulmonologist and professor of internal medicine at Stony Brook University, Norman Edelman MD, says asking your doctor how to quit smoking is probably the most important question to consider after your diagnosis because quitting is essential to the recovery process. Your doctor may recommend starting with simple measures such as a patch or gum; however, your doctor may suggest an intensive smoking cessation program at a hospital if you face difficulties.
5. Should I get lung cancer screening?
Once you have been diagnosed with COPD, it’s a good idea to ask if you need to get screened for lung cancer, especially if you’re a smoker, since smokers are five times more likely to develop lung cancer than nonsmokers. The United States Preventive Services Task Force advises adults with a history of heavy smoking between the ages of 55 and 80 to get themselves get screened annually.
6. How can I work on my breathing?
Shortness of breath is usually the main symptom associated with COPD. Lifestyle changes such as taking medication, avoiding secondhand smoke, and quitting smoking can help. Certain exercises are also effective, which can be taught to you by your doctor.
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