Ambivalence, helplessness, hopelessness – these may be among the most common emotions you feel when you first learn about your diagnosis. You may be wondering how your life will change with a chronic illness, or still be in shock at being diagnosed with COPD.
First, know that it’s normal to feel this way. Being diagnosed with a chronic condition is no easy thing. Chronic illnesses, like COPD, can be frightening because you probably don’t know what it is.
Your doctor will most probably give you a brief introduction about your condition--a few facts about the disease and what you should expect--but this brief interaction can never fully answer all questions at the back of your mind. And it is this fear of the unknown that can make COPD more daunting.
At first, maybe no words can assuage how you’re feeling. But you shouldn’t let these initial emotions overcome you. Being proactive about your diagnosis can have a big impact in making you feel less hopeless and more in control.
Let’s take a look at the first few things you have to do when you’re diagnosed with COPD.
1. Know more about COPD
As the saying goes, knowledge is power! Free your mind from excessive worrying and instead get to know more about your condition. Read about your condition, its symptoms, prognosis, and medications. Explore available medical treatments for COPD as well.
Learn about COPD from other people living with it. Seek out COPD support groups and patients, and get to know them and their routines. Understanding your condition and knowing how to manage it can help you cope properly.
More importantly, make sure to include your family and friends through this journey. COPD is not something you have to keep to yourself. Having a reliable support system is essential, and you will surely need it through the ups and downs of your condition.
2. Make healthy lifestyle changes immediately
Quality life with COPD is not impossible. But to achieve this, you have to make healthy lifestyle changes. Topmost priority here is that you have to stop irritating your lungs by quitting smoking. You should also avoid exposure to other irritants like second-hand smoke, dust, chemical fumes and air pollution that can trigger COPD symptoms.
3. Mind what you eat
You also have to pay attention to what you eat. This is because some foods can worsen your condition. For instance, milk and other dairy products can increase your mucous production. Knowing which foods to stay away from and which foods to stock up on can help you avoid flare-ups and keep an ideal weight.
Of course, you have to consume the right amount of carbohydrate, vitamins and minerals, and water. Usually, your doctor will recommend checking with a nutritionist for a more appropriate diet.
4. Develop a daily routine
Compliance with your treatment regimen is essential. In this early stage, a good tip is to make a checklist of your daily regimen and routine. This includes taking medications (and their corresponding doses), checking oxygen levels, doing breathing exercises, taking supplemental oxygen, running certain diagnostics, and other treatment recommendations from your physician. Though it may be quite tedious at first, eventually this routine will become natural and you won’t need any reminders for each of these tasks.
You’ll also have to learn how to schedule activities throughout the day to avoid pushing yourself to exhaustion. Develop a routine where you can still complete your daily living tasks, such as personal care, cooking, exercise, and even some work, while still factoring in the needed rest and treatments. You may also need to make some adjustments inside your home so you can conserve energy.
5. Prepare for medical expenses
Expect an increase in medical expenses in the coming months. Aside from medications, you will most likely need frequent clinic visits or hospital visits. Know your insurance plan and be familiar with what is covered and what is not to avoid unnecessary expenses. Explore your monthly expenses and see where you can save up. You would need to budget accordingly and save to avoid financial problems in case you need urgent medical attention. It’s also a good idea to check for financial assistance offered in your area.
6. Establish a support system
As mentioned earlier, it’s important to let your loved ones know about your diagnosis. Aside from offering much-needed emotional support, your family and friends can also lend a hand in times when you badly need assistance. Additionally, letting the people around you know about your condition will urge them to modify any actions that can trigger flare-ups or be bad for your condition. This includes smoking, putting on strong fragrances, and using strongly-scented products around the house. Adding CODP SERVICE GROUP ON FACEBOOK.
7. Work closely with your doctor
Managing a chronic condition requires a treatment plan that you can develop with your health care team. With the help of your doctor, you can create an action plan that is achievable. Explore available treatment options and discuss these with your doctor. Know the pros and cons, and whether these alternatives can be applicable to you. Discuss any fears or concerns you have as well.
Developing open communication lines with your doctor is crucial as you deal with the different changes due to COPD. Take note that COPD is a progressive disease and your treatment plan may need to adjust eventually.
So, there you have it! These are among the first actionable tips you should do once you’re diagnosed with COPD. Taking this advice to heart can allow you a more stress-free adjustment into having COPD.
Do you have any more advice on what to do once you’re diagnosed with COPD? Share them in the comments below!