Dear COPD Coach
I have just been diagnosed with COPD. The doctor told me that I am going to die within five years and I just can’t stop crying. I am really scared and don’t know what will happen to my family when I am gone.
When a doctor gives you a timeline like this, it is usually based on his or her experience with patients with similar symptoms; or as a
way to impress upon you the severity of the disease and the need for you to make immediate changes in the way you live. In reality, often the only one that can determine how long you will live is you.
When given a prognosis such as this, many patients have found four strategies that can influence how well – and perhaps how long – they live with COPD.
The first is attitude and outlook. By keeping a positive outlook and a determined attitude you can directly influence not only how handle your COPD but also the way you manage it.
Secondly, become educated about COPD. The more you know, the better able you will be to recognize warning signs and avoid exacerbations (times when your COPD flares up). Repeated exacerbations can cause further lung damage and speed progression of the disease.
Thirdly, take all your medications as your doctor prescribes, eat a healthy diet and get involved in a daily exercise routine or by taking part in a pulmonary rehabilitation program.
Lastly, make the needed lifestyle changes like avoiding chemicals or second hand smoke. If you are still smoking, quit. By quitting smoking, you do have some control over the progression of this disease!
Just remember, you are an important factor in determining how long you will live, or how quickly your COPD progresses. Please let us know if there is any way we can help!
Our thoughts are with you.
-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 email@example.com. 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.