Choosing how you live with COPD

The COPD Foundation share their thoughts on improving outcomes by making positive choices.

Many people experience the signs of COPD before they know they have it (or even what it is).

It’s actually an umbrella term used to describe a group of progressive lung diseases, and the breathlessness and coughing that many experience is often mistaken as part of the natural ageing process.

It’s thought that more than 329 million people are living with symptoms and risks associated with COPD across the world.[1] Many of these people may have symptoms but are undiagnosed.

While a diagnosis of COPD may be mysterious or frightening, it can also be an end to uncertainty and a start to getting support that may make a big difference to your life. 

Like many diseases, COPD can take both a physical and emotional toll. The physical limitations of feeling breathless can impact the activities you may previously have taken for granted.

This in turn can be hard on your wellbeing and sense of yourself. Some people with COPD talk of their frustration at feeling restricted or limited, while others feel despondent, resigned, or even fatalistic about their illness. 

We’ve seen that the people who have learned to live with their condition well are those who are able to overcome those feelings and develop a positive mindset towards their condition.

There is no right or wrong way to manage our emotional state, but consciously making positive choices in how you accept and cope with your condition can greatly improve outcomes.

Understanding your disease, your symptoms and how you can influence them is essential. And creating a plan with your healthcare team can go a long towards achieving this.

We’ve worked with many people with COPD in developing a sample plan, which may be useful when you meet your healthcare team.

Like anything in life, a plan is about taking some control, and feeling like you’re getting on top of your treatment.

Part of this plan might be seeking out more information about your disease, and finding out more about the experiences of others who are managing COPD.

Patients and those who care for them can join our active online social hub COPD360Social - A quick, free registration is required to participate in the forum.

Your plan doesn’t need to be about dreaming up unrealistic ambitions or being blind to the effects of COPD. It’s about setting realistic, everyday goals – like Sean, the soccer player who’s determined to remain active.

It’s also about keeping the lines of communication open, not just with your healthcare team, but the friends and family around you.

Our nearest and dearest can be a crucial support when we’re at our lowest points. And your healthcare team can help you find the best way of living with COPD for you.

Remember, if you feel you need some help or support, the very best place to start is by speaking with your doctor.

[1] Vos T. Global, regional, and national incidence, prevalence, and years lived with disability for301 acute and chronic diseases and injuries in 188 countries, 1990-2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013. The Lancet. 2015; 386 (9995):743-800.

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