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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Living with end stage COPD

As respiratory therapists we see, and often get to know pretty well, many end stage COPD patients. Yet, as we all know, end stage COPD "does not have to be a death sentence," writes Jane M. Martin in her post, "Healthy -- and Happy -- with 'End Stage' COPD?" over at the COPD Connection.

In her post, she provides the following tips for end stage or severe COPDers:

1. Stay well: As with asthma, COPD at any stage can be controlled. Control means that you are on the least amount of medication to maintain your own personal goals for your disease. Now, if your disease has progressed, you have to know your limits. But it doesn't mean you have to live in a shell.

So, staying well actually means knowing your limits, and knowing what you need to do to prevent a severe exacerbation of COPD. You must work with your doctor and take charge of your COPD. You must know your COPD triggers (which are similar to asthma triggers).

Likewise, Martin notes you'll also have to know your early warning signs that your COPD is starting to act up. I write about Early warning signs here.

2. Quit smoking: As you can see by this link, once you quit smoking you will prevent further lung damage, so that you can more easily learn to cope with and manage what you have -- with the help of your doctor of course.

3. Be informed: The best way to be a gallant COPDer, and to live the best life possible, you will need to stay in tune with the latest COPD wisdom. What are the latest meds? What is the latest COPD wisdom? What makes COPD worse? What makes it better? What is COPD? Get the facts. Check out this link and this.

4. Connect with others: You can also read COPD blogs to see what other COPDers like you are doing to cope, or participate in a community. For cool links, click here.

5. Get into pulmonary rehab: There is no better way to increase your quality of life, and prevent further delay, than by exercising. No matter how bad your COPD is, you should stay active. A good pulmonary rehab program is the ideal setting. Talk to your doctor about finding the program nearest you. This is also a good way to meet other COPDers.

6. Join a Better Breathers' Club : According to Martin, "At a Better Breathers' support group you will learn from guest speakers about staying healthy with COPD and meet people with similar concerns. Your spouse or support person might also connect with somebody who understands the unique issues of a caregiver/well spouse. Attending a breathing support group is free of charge and does not require a doctor's order. For the breathing support group nearest you call your local hospital, oxygen supply company, or go to the American Lung Association website. Click on "COPD Center" and go to Better Breathers Clubs. ("

7. Join an OnLine COPD community: I already provided links above. This is a great way to get to know other COPDers, ask questions, and stay in tune with your disease.

To learn more about COPD, click here.

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