Find your voice in treating COPD: learn what you need to ask your doctor

(BPT) – While many of us take for granted the ability to breathe easily, nearly 16 million Americans may be experiencing symptoms like coughing, wheezing or struggling to take in a breath — signs of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD.

COPD is a serious, progressive lung disease, usually caused by long-term damage to the lungs and airways, that makes it difficult to breathe. Although smoking is the number one cause of COPD, you don’t have to be an active smoker to have the condition, as environmental factors such as air pollution can also play a role. Because COPD causes difficulty breathing, people with the condition may find it challenging to go about their daily activities, such as walking, climbing stairs or going to the grocery store.

While people with COPD have good days and bad days, their COPD will never go away completely. However, the good news is that the condition is treatable. Most medicines that treat COPD come in an inhaler, not a pill, and there are several different inhalers available for COPD medicines, each one working differently. You can visit for more information on inhaler options.

Because there is no one-size-fits-all approach to COPD, it’s important for people with COPD to work with their doctors to find the right treatment for them. That includes a discussion of inhaler options. Whether your treatment involves smoking cessation, a change in diet and exercise, pulmonary rehab, switching your medicine and inhaler, or any combination of the above — that’s for you and your doctor to decide together.

Here are some suggested questions to ask your doctor during your next appointment to start a dialogue:

· How did you choose my current inhaler?

· Do I have to use my inhaler at the same time every day?

· What should I do if I’m struggling to breathe in medicine?

· How do I know if my inhaler is the right choice for me?

Everyone is different, therefore COPD doesn’t affect everyone in the same way. Talk to your doctor about the right treatment for you, including medicine and inhaler options.

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