COPD is a chronic long term respiratory condition that affects over 13,000 people across our city of Manchester. The disease is not curable, but treatment and small lifestyle changes can help to relieve symptoms and improve a person’s quality of life.
If you are living with COPD, read our guest blog by our very own Dr Raja Murugesan, Clinical Lead for Respiratory Medicine who talks about the five things you can do to keep well.
This World COPD Day and I wanted to share my thoughts for the millions of people across the country and the thousands in Manchester and Greater Manchester affected by the illness.
Chronic obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a big word, but all it says is that it is an illness which is long term, and the airways are affected making them narrow, causing an inability to breathe air out completely. Some people use the words, emphysema or bronchitis to describe the same.
It will be good to see your GP, if you are experiencing breathlessness and it is progressively getting worse, affecting your everyday tasks, you are coughing, or coughing with phlegm, and are coming down with frequent winter infections. People who smoke are more likely to develop lung diseases. Presenting early to a doctor is really important and it allows for effective treatment of the problem once the diagnosis is established.
If you already have COPD, there is still a lot that could be done to help.
Getting help to stop smoking
The most effective treatment that helps people who smoke is to get help to stop smoking. There are very effective treatments that are available to help you in what is usually a very significant and a life changing decision.
Protection from getting infections
If you have not had your flu jab yet, make a visit to your GP or local pharmacy to get it. The other vaccine which helps is the pneumococcal vaccine, and most people just need it once in their lifetime. Simple measures like maintaining your hand hygiene helps a lot in keeping you healthy.
Exercise goes a long way in keeping us well. We’re all able to do something, and we may need to push our boundaries. Sometimes, it may be just to stand up from the chair to sit back again, or walking within the room, to going out for a walk. Get your practice nurse or GP to refer you to programs called pulmonary rehabilitation in the community. It really helps us in getting the most out of our lungs, and 9 out of 10 people who have been through this structured exercise and education program report improved exercise capacity and/or increased quality of life.
Your practice nurse will review your illness every year, and they would do some assessments which might include checking how breathless you are, how it affects your quality of life and how much is your blood oxygen level. They would in addition to these checks, also show how to take your inhalers properly, and put you on the right inhaler which is best for you. They may sometimes refer you into specialist teams to get oxygen. COPD often flares up which can leave you feeling more unwell, your cough might get worse or you may feel more breathless. When you do feel like this, it is really important to either speak to your GP or community team to get help immediately.
Addressing other illnesses
People with COPD often have other illnesses associated it with it which include heart diseases, anxiety, depression, osteoporosis and other lung conditions. It is important to be aware of these things and getting help to manage these issues is very important.
Winter is a crucial time as every degree drop in temperature below 5 degrees, increases the risk of becoming unwell. Following the above steps will help you to remain well, and if you are struggling with any of it, please speak to your trusted practice nurse, GP or the community team.
Wishing you all the very best for this season and feel free to contact me or MHCC if you have any query around your COPD and its management.
Dr Raja Murugesan