Red flags for COPD

November is COPD Awareness month. COPD (chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease) is a lung condition that gets steadily worse over time. It
is often characterized by “flares,” or “exacerbations,” periods
when breathing suddenly becomes more difficult. It can be very frightening and
often results in a dash to the emergency room.

It’s important to
know the early signs of a flare and to have an action plan.
If you know the
signs and what to do, chances are good for managing the condition at home. Skip
the stress and cost of trips to the emergency room!

Develop a
personalized action plan with your relative’s health care provider.
may even have classes or nurse educators to help. Ask what you should do if
your family member suddenly shows symptoms such as these:

  • Feeling more breathless
    than usual
  • Extreme fatigue
  • More coughing, with thicker
    phlegm or mucus
  • Needing to use a quick-relief
    “rescue” inhaler or nebulizer more often
  • Weight gain of three pounds
    or more in a day’s time. This may be due to fluid build-up. Check for increased
    swelling around the ankles.
  • Inability to sleep well because
    of breathing or coughing difficulties
  • Lack of appetite

Plan with the doctor what steps to take to address these symptoms. Among other things, the doctor may suggest

  • special medications
  • special breathing exercises
  • increased oxygen

Have these on hand and ready for use at the first sign of
a flare. Call the doctor immediately if these treatments don’t help and the
condition seems to be getting worse.  

Does the person you care for have COPD?
We at Debra Levy Eldercare Associates understand how frightening it can be to see a loved one struggling so hard to breathe. As the Metro DC experts in family caregiving, we can help you do what you can do at home to keep things stable. Give us a call at 301-593-5285. Let’s start the conversation.