How to keep yourself well
Attend for regular reviews
It is important that you attend any follow up and annual review appointments offered to you. Even if you are feeling well and have not experienced any exacerbations, these appointments allow the healthcare professionals looking after you to assess how well you are managing, provide education and advice on medications including inhaler technique, assess any increasing levels of breathlessness, and discuss potential referral to exercise programmes or further assessment and tests.
The review appointments also provide you with the opportunity to raise any questions you may have about your respiratory condition and tips and advice on self management.
Keep up to date with vaccinations
It is important to attend any offered vaccination appointments. These may include yearly vaccination against the expected flu virus for a particular year, COVID 19 and vaccination against pneumonia.
It’s never too late to give up smoking. You may think the damage has already been done. But evidence proves that giving up smoking – even after a diagnosis of COPD – is one of the best things you can do to help reduce the severity and progression of the disease. For further information on how to access help to stop smoking, please visit Stop smoking service | NHS Fife
Nutrition and COPD
Common symptoms of COPD include dry mouth, taste changes and shortness of breath – all of which may impact on your appetite and enthusiasm for food.
To help protect yourself from risk of malnutrition, either from being undernourished or obese, it is important to eat a balanced healthy diet.
General advice can be found on:
Webinars on Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Webinar 2: Nutrition Advice & Eating With A Poor Appetite
Eating Well with a Lung Condition
NHS Fife Nutrition and Dietetic Department also has a range of information leaflets for patients.
Adjusting to any change or loss in life can be difficult and when health changes or diagnosis is received, it can be hard to adjust to your new circumstances. Illness can affect emotional wellbeing, which can then impact on other aspects of your life including your job and relationships. People can be prone to stress, anxiety or low mood. As breathing affects everything we do, it can be hard to forget about a respiratory condition and it might feel overwhelming at times.
We all respond differently, and people living with a respiratory condition might experience a range of emotions and feelings such as feeling shocked, helpless, down, angry, frightened, guilty, de-moralised or alone. These feelings are commonly seen in people who are diagnosed with a chronic condition.
It is important to find ways to minimise and manage stress and learn to cope with difficult feelings. Sometimes even very small changes can be helpful and can make patient’s feel better.
Some basic examples might include:
- Sharing concerns with how you are feeling with a trusted friend or family member so that they can understand and support you better;
- Pacing strategies and listening more to your body, rather than overdoing it and becoming over tired;
- Where possible, adapting previously enjoyed or valued activities so that you can still do things that are important or meaningful to you;
- Try, where possible, to maintain a reasonable and varied routine;
- Break down tasks into smaller more manageable chunks and set realistic goals;
- Acknowledge some of the changes and limitations are as a result of your condition and make allowances for this;
- Ensure time for relaxation and effective rest;
- Be aware of how you are thinking about things. Sometimes we can get caught up in unhelpful thought patterns (without even really being aware of it), which can make us feel frustrated or upset. Sometimes it can help to write down some more realistic statements to remind us, for example “I can manage this. I’ve managed it before if I just take my time”.
- Remind yourself that you have coped in the past in difficult circumstances and the constructive strategies that were used then which could be used now;
- Be aware of any activities you are avoiding (for fear of breathlessness) and see if there are ways to gradually try that activity again in a more manageable way;
- Recognise all the things that you are managing to do!
Further support if needed can be sought from Home - Access Therapies Fife or by visiting Psychology services in NHS Fife. Online self help can be accessed at www.moodcafe.co.uk and Step on Stress - Access Therapies Fife NHS (scot.nhs.uk).