You've gone to the doctor with complaints of having trouble breathing, he has ordered lung x-rays and tests for your lung function and the results are back. Your doctors informs you that have been diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD.
COPD covers two chronic respiratory illness – Chronic Bronchitis and Emphysema. Even though these two illnesses are different and have slightly different symptoms aside from lowered lung function, they still fall under the name of COPD. A friend of yours may have been diagnosed with the same disease, but he has severe Emphysema and you have a mild form of Chronic Bronchitis. Even though you both have COPD, the medications and treatments you have will differ.
Either way, being diagnosed with a chronic illness when you were previously healthy can be a shock. Most of the time, it's because you have been smoking for a long time, or it's because you've lived in an area with a low air quality and high pollution for many years of your life.
Beginning treatment and getting the medications you need was the first step in the right direction. The next important step to take to help yourself is to remove the cause of the illness. If you smoke, start down the road to quitting. This is extremely important, because as soon as you quit, your body begins to recover and the progression of the disease slows down significantly. If you live in a highly polluted area, see about moving. This isn't always realistic, but if it will improve your health, it would be worth it.
You might have a hard time doing simple things you could do before, like cleaning your home. Needing help doing things like this can make you feel helpless, but there are ways to make these tasks easier. For example, instead of mopping your floor with a standard mop and bucket, try using a steam mop – these only require you to fill a small reservoir to create the steam, are very lightweight, sanitize the floor with the steam and makes cleaning a hard floor much easier. Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to get rid of dust that can aggravate your lungs.
Prevention will also make your life with COPD much easier. Stay on top of your lung health by calling your doctor at the first sign of trouble. Learn to use a Peak Flow meter to monitor how well your lungs are functioning at any given time. Keep a record of the readings on a daily basis to note any patterns. You might find that you have better days when the weather is warm and dry, and if possible, to avoid going outside on days when the weather is very hot, if this causes an aggravation.
Your diagnosis that might have brought some major changes in your life can be hard to deal with. If you feel overwhelmed, anxious or have a continued feeling of sadness or despair, see a counselor or talk to your doctor to see how you can best counter this, not necessarily with added medications. Sometimes all you need to do is find ways to adjust and try to look at the bright side of things. Keep yourself busy with the things you love and focus on the good things in life.