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Questions to Ask Your Doctor About COPD and Oxygen Therapy

Maybe lately you’ve been experiencing some trouble breathing, and you’re not sure why. You may have gotten a chest cold that you never seemed to fully recover from. These are both serious reasons for concern, and you shouldn’t ignore them. Once you start having trouble breathing, you need to see your doctor as soon as possible. If you’ve been smoking for many years, it could be a sign of a lung disease like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

If you are diagnosed with this disease after all the testing has been done and your doctor has come to a conclusion (chest x-rays, spirometry and arterial blood gas test), the story is far from over. Now you and your doctor have to decide on the best way to treat you. You need to feel free to ask questions, but once you’ve been diagnosed with something like COPD, you might find it hard to concentrate on what you need to do next. Here are some questions that are important to ask your doctor after being diagnosed with COPD and about oxygen therapy.

Am I able to exercise? Or How often should I exercise safely?

Exercise is still very beneficial for someone with COPD. It will help strengthen your heart and lungs, as well as the rest of your body. Physical activity is important and usually a good idea for most people, but you still need your doctor’s opinion on which types of exercise are safe for you and your specific condition.

He or she might suggest a certain amount of time each day for exercise, or suggest a specific amount of weight training versus cardio, or something gentle like tai chi, or just walking around your neighborhood at a brisk pace. Her or she might also recommend exercise with the use of a portable oxygen concentrator, and to check your oxygen saturation with a pulse oximeter, to make sure you are indeed getting enough oxygen while you exercise.

What should I do to quit smoking?

Quitting smoking after you’ve been diagnosed with COPD is extremely important to being able to effectively treat the disease. Your doctor will be able to point you in the right direction for quitting smoking, offer you quitting resources and suggestions for things you can do, such as taking nicotine replacements while you are quitting.

Why exactly do I need oxygen therapy?

This is a very valid question to ask if you’ve been prescribed oxygen therapy. Being hooked up to a machine for hours out of the day might not be anyone’s idea of fun, but it is necessary to keep you healthy and improve your quality of life. Your doctor will explain to you why he or she came to the conclusion that you need a specific amount of oxygen, measured in liters per minute (LPM) in continuous flow, or so many milliliters (mL) per bolus in pulse doses. He or she can also help you choose an oxygen concentrator that will suit your needs.

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