Living well with COPD
Finding out you have a serious health condition can be a shock. However, a diagnosis means you can get the right support to live well and start to take control of your condition.
We hear from Leigh, Tracy and Jenny three North East Lincolnshire residents who are being supported to manage their COPD, a group of lung conditions that make it harder to breathe because their airways have been narrowed.
Leigh, Tracy and Jenny talk about living with COPD.
The importance of getting diagnosed
"I’d tell people to get some advice, some support, because it just changes your way of living, I used to get a bit frightened when I got breathless but now I can control it and I know what to do, it’s just wonderful.”
COPD (also known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) affects more than 3 million people in the UK. We know there will be many people living in North East Lincolnshire who are unable to do the things they used to because of a shortness of breath but they may be putting this down to things like getting older or putting on weight. A diagnosis would help them find out what they can do to live well and manage their condition so they can start doing some of the things they miss again.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned in this film please contact your GP Practice. You can also take the Breathlessness Test on the British Lung Foundation website by visiting https://www.blf.org.uk/support-for-you/breathlessness/blf-breath-test
If you have been diagnosed as having COPD then there is support available in North East Lincolnshire with Hope Specialist Services, from the Care Plus Group. It’s located at the Val Waterhouse Centre, on Kent Street, in Grimsby, and you can ring them on 01472 313400 or visit their webpage at http://www.careplusgroup.org/services/hope-specialist-service
To help manage your condition, speak to your GP Practice or health professional about the myCOPD app.
People living with COPD - their stories
Listen in more detail to the experiences of the three local people who shared their thoughts and feelings on living with COPD and the help and support they have received from their GP Practice and Hope Specialist Services. View the films here.
Tips from others living with COPD
"I know when I’m going to get a chest infection so I’m straight into my rescue pack. My doctor has been happy for me to manage my own medicines and I haven’t had a chest infection now for about 8 months. It’s just learning to keep it managed and not let it get that bad. There’s nothing wrong with your condition, you just learn to manage it. To do a bit of exercise and learn how to breath properly."
If you are affected by COPD, here are some tips from the British Lung Foundation to help you manage your condition.
It’s important for everyone to stay active and control their weight, but especially if you’re living with COPD.
Exercise can help you to manage your breathlessness, reduce flare-ups and it’s also a great chance to meet new people.
Talk to others
Having a long term condition like COPD can put a strain on any relationship. Difficulty breathing and coughing can make people with the condition feel very tired and depressed.
It is also inevitable that their spouse, partner or carer will feel anxious or even frustrated about their breathing problems. It is important to talk about your worries together. Being open about how you feel and what your family and friends can do to help may put them at ease. But do not feel shy about telling them that you need some time to yourself, if that is what you want.
With severe COPD, the increasing breathlessness can make it difficult to take part in activities. The breathlessness may occur during sexual activity, which may mean your sex life can suffer.
Communicate with your partner and stay open-minded. The BLF have really useful information about sex and breathlessness which has lots of great advice on this topic. Share your experiences and problems; there will always be someone that can help.
Have your flu vaccine
If you have COPD, getting flu can cause lots of problems and trigger a serious flare-up of your condition. It’s so important that you get your annual flu jab, and encourage the people around you to get one too.
Take things slowly and plan ahead
Pacing yourself is essential. From the moment you wake up you should think about how to save your energy and reduce feelings of breathlessness. It’s important to get to know your body and the best ways for you to manage your condition.
Maybe a certain chest clearing technique works really well for you, or there are certain times of day that are better for some activities. This can mean you have to do lots of planning for each day, but your life might be easier in long run.
Winter brings cold weather which can trigger COPD symptoms, so make sure you stay nice and warm. If you’re going outside wrap up and try putting your scarf over your mouth, it will stop some of the cold air from irritating your lungs.
If possible try and go out at the warmest times of the day and avoid peak times.
f you have any questions about your condition you can call the BLF Helpline on 03000 030 555, Monday to Friday, 9am - 5pm, where a team of qualified nurses are ready to help.