Everyday tips for living with COPD—from a PA and NP

Does facing COPD feel like the fight of your life? Turn to the pros for help! Here are tips for making every breath come more easily, from physician assistant Gabriel Ortiz and nurse practitioner Angela Golden.

Health Monitor Staff

Stop smoking!
“The biggest thing to do is quit smoking,” emphasizes Gabriel Ortiz, a physician assistant in El Paso, TX. “Set a date to seek treatment to stop smoking or an expected time to quit or cut down.” Having a target date will help you commit to quitting.

Eat right.
“If we keep patients healthy—and good nutrition is an important part of staying healthy—then they will have a better quality of life,” says Angela Golden, immediate past president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, and a clinician who owns her own practice in Munds Park, AZ. “Understanding how good nutrition impacts good lung health doesn’t get enough emphasis.”

Know your meds.
“If you understand why you’re taking something, it’s easier to do it correctly,” says Angela.

Don’t stop being you.
“Patients don’t realize how important activity is,” notes Angela. “I have a patient—her COPD was impacting her ability to garden, so it was important to find ways to adapt so she could still garden.” Just be sure to talk to your care team before starting any physical activity.

Partner with your provider.
Be forthcoming about how your treatment is working. “If something’s not working in your life for whatever reason—cost, timing, side effects—let us know,” says Angela. After all, you and your care team have the same goal: the best possible quality of life for you. “Tell us what you’re feeling,” advises Gabe. “We’ll give you what we think works best, and we’ll see how that works in your daily life. You’re not alone—we’re in this together!”

January 2015