Dr Murugesan Raja, Clinical Lead for Respiratory Medicine in Manchester has shared a blog post for World COPD Day – Wednesday 16 November 2022
Today is World COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) Day and I’m sharing my thoughts on the millions of people across the country, and the thousands in Manchester and Greater Manchester, who are affected by the illness.
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 condition.
It would be appropriate to see your GP if you are experiencing breathlessness which is progressively getting worse and affecting everyday tasks and coughing – coughing with phlegm and frequent infections.
People who smoke are more likely to develop lung diseases. Presenting early to a doctor is important, so they can arrange for you to be tested using a blowing test and/or a chest x-ray. It allows for effective treatment of the problem once the diagnosis has been established.
If you already have COPD, there is still a lot that could be done to help.
1) 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 available to help you, in what is usually a very significant and a life changing decision. Help is available through Be Smoke free if you are a resident or your GP is in Manchester. You can contact them on 0161 823 4157 or reach them by email: email@example.com
2) Protection from getting infections:
If you haven’t had your flu jab, make a visit to your GP or local pharmacy to get it. You will also be eligible for the COVID autumn booster, and I would recommend you 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 good hand hygiene and wearing face masks in crowded places helps a lot in keeping you healthy.
3) Staying active
Exercise goes a long way in keeping us well. We are all able to do some exercise and we may need to push our boundaries. Sometimes, it may be just to stand up from the chair and to sit back down again, or to walk within the room, or to go outside for a walk.
Get your practice nurse or GP to refer you on to a program called ‘pulmonary rehabilitation in the community’. It will help you immensely in getting the most out of your lungs and to breathe better.
Nine out of 10 people who have been through this structured exercise and education program report improved their exercise capacity and/or increased their quality of life.
4) Self care
Your practice nurse will review your illness every year, and they will do some assessments which might include – checking how breathless you are and how it affects your quality of life, and how much is your blood oxygen level.
In addition to the above, they will also help you take your inhalers properly, and put you on the right inhaler which is best for you.
Did you know that some inhalers have a very high carbon footprint and cause climate change?
Ask your GP or nurse to give you an inhaler which is climate friendly, if it is something that is suitable for you. They may sometimes refer you into a specialist team to get oxygen.
COPD often flares up which results in you feeling more unwell, or you may experience an increase in coughing or getting more breathless. It is really important to either speak to your GP practice or community team to get help immediately.
5) Addressing other illnesses
People with COPD often have other illnesses associated 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 you 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.
The cost-of-living crisis is also a significant problem. If you are struggling with the increase in the cost of food and energy bills, especially to keep your house warm and are struggling financially, help is available.
You can access our cost-of-living advice line by calling 0800 023 2692.
The line is open Monday to Friday 9am to 4:30pm.
This free telephone line offers support with:
Benefits and help with your rent
Advice about debt and paying bills
Food support – help to find community food provision near you
Help to get online – support to access the internet, laptop, phone and data.