Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is a long-term condition, which leads to narrowing of the airways and difficulty breathing. It is usually progressive but deterioration of the symptoms can be slowed with appropriate management. Currently approximately 1.2million people in the UK are diagnosed with COPD.
Usually COPD is a condition of older adults and one of the most important factors related to COPD is smoking. Although not all patients with COPD will have been smokers, for there is a clear link and the longer you have smoked for the higher your chance of developing COPD. Importantly, even after being diagnosed with COPD, giving up smoking can still dramatically improve your symptoms and reduce deterioration in the condition over time.
At the practice we focus both on routine managing patients with COPD with annual reviews to monitor and ensure appropriate treatment, but also on trying our best to help patients to quit smoking. For this reason we run an in-house Smoking Cessation clinic where our experienced nursing team will offer you support and where appropriate, medication to help you quit.
For those patients with a diagnosis of COPD, the practice will aim to offer a follow-up appointment 2 weeks after discharge from hospital following any admissions due to an exacerbation of COPD or a COPD related illness such as pneumonia; however, as we often do not receive discharge summaries in a timely manner, we would encourage you to book for a review with a GP following any hospital admission related to your COPD.
What can I do to help myself if I have been diagnosed with COPD?
- Read up about the condition on the links below. The best prevention of progression is achieved by a good understanding of the disease and early recognition of exacerbations or deteriorating symptoms
- Attend your annual reviews- these will usually be timed around your birthday but obviously we will always be happy to see you if you feel your symptoms are deteriorating before this.
- Give up smoking if you still smoke and try to avoid exposure to passive smoking if you don’t.
- Ensure you put in your medication/inhaler prescription requests in time so that you do not risk running out in an emergency. Equally, if you notice that your inhaler use has increased please book an appointment to come in for a review.
Prevention is better than treatment! For this reason, if you are over 35 and smoke, the practice will offer you an appointment for Spirometry (lung function tests) which will help assess your risk of developing COPD and any current lung damage.
For more information on COPD go to the British lung foundation www.blf.org.uk or the COPD Foundation at www.copdfoundation.org.uk or search the Patient Information sources on COPD on www.patient.co.uk