Tips in Avoiding COPD Exacerbations
Every day, we encounter patients of different ages from different walks of life. Each with their own health concerns and problems. Most of the time, when in hospitals, we are focused on treating diseases and restoring patients’ health, what we sometimes forget to do is to promote health to our patients. We are so focused on giving medications and performing treatment interventions that we forget to teach our patients how to prevent acquiring certain diseases and complications, one case example is COPD. Below are some tips to teach patients when it comes to avoiding COPD exacerbations.
- Advise patient to see health care professional at a regularly scheduled appointment even if he/she feels fine
- Encourage patient to get flu shot every year. There are local pharmacies and grocery stores that offer these shots for free at the start of flu season
- Check if the patient is due for a pneumonia and pertussis shot
- Wash hands often for 20 seconds with warm water and mild soap
- Carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer for times when the patient cannot wash hands
- Avoid touching the mouth, eyes, and nose in public to help prevent germs from entering the body
- Stay away from crowds, especially during cold and flu season
- Use own pen, especially when signing in at the HCP’s office or other health appointments
- Get plenty of sleep. When the body is tired, the patient is more likely to get sick
- Drink plenty of water. Thick sticky mucus is more likely to get stuck in the lungs and cause problems
- Keep lungs working at peak levels by taking due medicines such as Inhaled beta-agonists, steroids and/or anticholinergics.
- Use hand-held spirometry. It is a quick and easy device to measure how well the lungs are working. It measures how much air the patient can blow out in one second (FEV1). Spirometry is good for those who have difficulty knowing the earliest signs of an exacerbation.
Recognizing the early warning signs of acute exacerbation is also helpful as by doing so, the health care provider will be able to formulate appropriate actions and interventions to address the problem at hand:
- Wheezing, or more wheezing than what’s normal for the patient
- Coughing more than usual
- Shortness of breath that is worse than usual
- An increase in the amount of mucus
- Change in the color of your mucus to yellow, green, tan, or bloody
- Shallow or rapid breathing, more than what’s normal for the patient
- Confusion or excessive sleepiness
- Swelling in the feet or ankles
When experiencing these signs, the patient must be advised to seek medical attention immediately.