Stopping smoking helps to slow down the rate of lung function decline and is a proven effective intervention. It is considered a part of the patient’s treatment plan and should be offered to all who smoke. Please ask for help with this and referral to Quit for life. Support and advice is available as listed in the useful resources section.
Keeping active is extremely beneficial in many ways. Although breathlessness on effort can be uncomfortable, it is not necessarily serious. If there is any doubt about exercise then it is important to discuss the concerns with a health care professional. Walking at a steady pace with frequent stops if you become breathless (stop until breathing gets back under control) is a good way to gently exercise. The aim is to have 20-30 minutes per day. Trying to increase the amount walked every day leads to improvements in symptoms.
Breathing can be much more efficient if more use is made of the diaphragm (muscle that lies between the lungs and abdomen). It is best to ask for some advice about the correct breathing exercises to do from a physiotherapist or the respiratory team.
Keeping weight correct and maintained for height is essential as we use more energy and oxygen to carry the extra weight and this increases breathlessness and decreases activity. People with lung disease need more energy to breathe so getting too thin means they get more tired, are more prone to infection and they lose their muscle strength and tone. It is very important to seek advice if losing weight as a dietician referral may be required.
It is important that patients understand and have been shown how to use their inhalers properly. Medication use and the reasons for use should always be explained by the health care professional. It is important that the person with COPD and other lung conditions knows how to recognise when they are developing infection and/or a worsening of symptoms. Most patients’ with COPD should have a rescue pack of antibiotics and steroids at home to take when symptoms develop and contact numbers for advice and support
Influenza and Pneumococcal vaccinations:
These vaccinations have been proven to benefit patients with lung disease. The GP practice normally invites the patient to attend for flu vaccination annually and the pneumococcal vaccination is required every 10 years.
Going on holiday and flying:
Patients currently using oxygen can have their prescription and equipment provided at their holiday destination providing it is in the UK. This can be arranged directly through the Oxygen company – Dolby Vivisol. If a change in the prescription is required then please contact the unit. Some patients may require oxygen in flight if travelling by aeroplane so in these cases a fitness to fly test is required. Contact for further information. Government allowances:
Patients with lung disease may be entitled to governmental financial support. Contact the Benefits Agency Enquiry Line on 0800 882200 or the Department for Works and Pensions website www.dwp.gov.uk for more information.