During winter you are more likely to have a Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) exacerbation, known as a flare-up of symptoms. Every exacerbation does long-term damage to your health and can increase your risk of death.
Reduce your risk of an exacerbation and stay well this winter by completing this checklist:
- Get your vaccinations (influenza; pneumococcal pneumonia)
- Keep active, eg. with pulmonary rehabilitation
- Check how to use your inhaler device with your doctor/pharmacist
- Ask your doctor for a COPD Action Plan
Know the signs of an exacerbation. CHAT is an easy to remember acronym that helps you to recognise the symptoms of a COPD exacerbation.
- Coughing more than usual.
- Harder to breathe than usual.
- Any change in sputum (phlegm).
- Tired more than usual (less active).
Have the CHAT with your doctor as soon as you experience any worsening of symptoms.
Here are some tips on making the most out of your doctor’s appointment:
- Make appointments with the same doctor, except in an urgent situation and when your normal doctor is unavailable.
- List questions and concerns about your COPD in order of priority before your visit.
- Ask for a longer appointment or schedule a second visit if you have lots of questions or concerns.
- Don’t avoid asking questions because you are embarrassed. Your doctor is there to help.
- Bring a friend or family member for support.
- Ask your doctor to write answers down so you can review them later.
- Find out from your doctor when you should make your next appointment and ask what to do if your symptoms worsen or if you’re not getting better.
For more information, visit http://lungfoundation.com.au/havethechat or phone freecall 1800 654 301.