COPD Awareness Month – Still Going Strong

November 20th, 2014 | Author: Fabiana Beltran

It has been a busy month for us at the COPD Foundation. As you probably know, November is National COPD/Alpha-1 Awareness Month! How have you been raising awareness of COPD to your friends, family, and community?

We still have more than a week of COPD Awareness Month left! Don’t forget to wear ORANGE, the official color of COPD, and take part in COPD Foundation activities: COPD360ourcommunityonline_AAcard

Use #Tell10 to encourage your friends and family to tell at least 10 people every day about this devastating disease.
#Tell10 people about COPD every day for COPD Awareness Month. Strength in numbers: because we are stronger when we work together.

Our Veterans: an At-Risk Population for COPD

November 11th, 2014 | Author: Fabiana Beltran

Happy Veterans Day from the COPD Foundation!

We are deeply grateful to those who have sacrified for our country to protect and uphold American ideals and freedom. We honor all military veterans today and extend a heartfelt “Thank You” for their service.

Did you know veterans face a higher risk of developing COPD?

You might be surprised to learn that:

  • Veterans are 3x more likely to develop COPD than the civilian populationimages-of-veterans-day
  • COPD is the fifth most prevalent disease in the veteran population
  • COPD affects approximately 15% of Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare users

In the article, “Fighting for Air: Veterans Face Higher Risk for Developing Lung Diseases,” the author, COPD Foundation president John W. Walsh, states that COPD is a growing health concern for military veterans. He says that some soldiers have faced, “… a barrage of respiratory exposure,” such as:

  • Smoke from burn pits
  • Aerosolized metals and chemicals
  • Outdoor aeroallergens like date pollen
  • Indoor aeroallergens like mold aspergillus

With these environmental hazards in mind, we urge veterans who are symptomatic of COPD to get an annual “spirometry” or breathing test.

We want to help those who have given up so much for us, and hope all veterans will take action during November’s COPD Awareness Month by getting screened for COPD.

Medicare Open Enrollment for 2015

October 21st, 2014 | Author: Aimee Bulthuis

Medicare Open Enrollment has now begun! Now through December 7th you can enroll or change your Medicare plan. Each year Medicare prescription drug plans change their benefits and formularies. This means your current plan may change,



including what medications covered or your out-of-pocket costs. Open Enrollment is the time  you can sign up for or make changes to a Medicare Health Plan or prescription drug coverage. Any changes you make during Open Enrollment will be for coverage beginning January 1, 2015. If you are satisfied with your existing plan you do not have to do anything. However, we highly recommend that you review your plan in case of any coverage changes scheduled for 2015. There are many tools available to help you determine the best plan for you and help you compare the costs, coverage, and formularies of available plans.

  • Visit to use the Medicare Plan Finder. For help navigating see the following Alpha-1 Foundation guides: Medicare Advantage Plan Finder, QuickCheck Medicare Plan Finder, Medicare QuickCheck Plan D Finder
  • Or call the Medicare Toll Free Number 1-800-MEDICARE (633-4227)

The Alpha-1 Foundation has developed a step-by-step guide to help you with the Open Enrollment process. This presentation will show you how to determine which Medicare drug plans offer the drug(s) you need on their formulary. It is not an in‐depth comparison of plans, but does show you how to do a ‘Quick Check’ to see which plans in your area have your drug(s) available on their formulary. Download the following attachments for your guides to help in this process:

Medicare Advantage Plan Finder

Medicare Open Enrollment_2014

Medicare QuickCheck Plan D Finder Slides

Is Stress Making My COPD Worse?

October 15th, 2014 | Author: COPD Coach

Dear COPD Coach,

I have been living with COPD for several years and find that it is getting harder to breathe. This is making me feel very stressed, and I think the stress alone is making my symptoms worse. Do you have any advice on how to stop it?


Dear Stressed,

The mechanism you are referring to works something like this. You have difficulty breathing or get out of breath andbreathing become stressed, which in turn causes even more difficulty breathing, which then causes more stress — until it spirals out of control. There is probably no worse feeling than not being able to breathe!

The progression of COPD along with breathing difficulties is often slow, but in some cases progresses more quickly. Adapting to this change can be difficult and might require some action on your part. When you start feeling anxious or stressed, give yourself a “time out.” Sit, relax and try pursed lips breathing until the stress or anxiety passes. You might also try taking your mind off your breathing by reading or watching a movie or TV show.

If you still are not able to control the stress and anxiety, you might consider talking with your doctor about medication to “take the edge off” the stress and anxiety attacks and help you cope better.

You might also consider joining a support group if you have one in your area, or getting involved in a pulmonary education program where you can interact with others who have COPD. The camaraderie and interaction can be very beneficial!

Lastly, please know that you are not alone. If you need us, we are just a phone call away by calling our C.O.P.D. Information Line at 866-316 COPD (2673), staffed by COPD patients and open from 9AM until 9PM EST. Associates are trained to help and can always offer some great advice or support.

Take Care!
The COPD Coach

Ask the Expert is aimed at providing information for individuals with COPD to take to your doctor, and is not in any way intended to be medical advice.

If you would like to submit a question to the Coaches Corner email us at We would love to hear your questions and comments. You can address your emails to any of the following: COPD Coach, Caregiver Coach, COPD Doctor or COPD RT.

Lifestyle Changes and COPD

October 9th, 2014 | Author: COPD Coach

Dear COPD Coach,

I was diagnosed with COPD last week. There is still so much for me to learn and figure out. What lifestyle changes will I need to make?


Dear Changes,

You are right in saying there is a lot to learn. The more you are able to learn, the more you will be in a better position to manage your COPD. COPD isn’t a death sentence, but it certainly requires a lifestyle change.

  1. Avoid strong chemical odors. This would include strong cleaning solutions, solvents, perfumes. Also avoid pollution, pollen, wood smoke, dust and anything that irritates your lungs
  2. If you smoke, quit! Avoid second- and even third-hand smoke.


  3. Take your medications as prescribed.
  4. Eat a balanced diet and avoid foods that cause you to feel bloated. Try eating several small meals throughout the day and avoid large meals.
  5. Exercise is very important for COPD management. By keeping your muscles toned, they require less oxygen and therefore you will not get out of breath as much during exertion. (Speak with your doctor or respiratory therapist about what exercise would work best for you).
  6. Avoid sick people, and when out and about, wash your hands regularly. If necessary, carry a small bottle of hand cleaner. Wearing a mask when out among large groups of people is always a good idea.
  7. Try to stay indoors during high pollen or high pollution times. Also avoid going out in extreme heat or cold, as you may experience difficulty breathing.
  8. Get educated! Learn to spot the signs of an exacerbation (times when your breathing becomes worse) and contact your doctor before it becomes serious
  9. Use your supplemental oxygen as prescribed.
  10. Get involved with a local COPD community support group.

By following these steps, you can greatly affect the progression of your COPD. If you have any questions, call our C.O.P.D. Information Line (866-316-2763) which is staffed by COPD patients and caregivers. A great source of information is our Big Fat Reference Guide, which can be downloaded free from our website

Lastly, please always remember you are not alone. We are here to help if you need us!

- The COPD Coach

Ask the Expert is aimed at providing information for individuals with COPD to take to your doctor, and is not in any way intended to be medical advice.

If you would like to submit a question to the Coaches Corner email us at We would love to hear your questions and comments. You can address your emails to any of the following: COPD Coach, Caregiver Coach, COPD Doctor or COPD RT.