Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease - adults - discharge
You were in the hospital to treat breathing problems that are caused by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease COPD. COPD damages your lungs. This makes it hard to breathe and get enough oxygen.
After you go home, follow instructions on taking care of yourself. Use the information below as a reminder.
COPD - adults - discharge; Chronic obstructive airways disease - adults - discharge; Chronic obstructive lung disease - adults - discharge; Chronic bronchitis - adults - discharge; Emphysema - adults - discharge; Bronchitis - chronic - adults - discharge; Chronic respiratory failure - adults - discharge
When You're in the Hospital
In the hospital you received oxygen to help you breathe better. You may also need to use oxygen at home. Your health care provider may have changed some of your COPD medicines during your hospital stay.
To build strength:
Build your strength even when you are sitting.
Ask your provider whether you need to use oxygen during your activities, and if so, how much. You may be told to keep your oxygen above 90%. You can measure this with an oximeter. This is a small device that measures your body's oxygen level.
Talk to your provider about whether you should do an exercise and conditioning program such as pulmonary rehabilitation.
Know how and when to take your COPD medicines.
Eat smaller meals more often, such as 6 smaller meals a day. It might be easier to breathe when your stomach is not full. DO NOT drink a lot of liquid before eating, or with your meals.
Ask your provider what foods to eat to get more energy.
Keep your lungs from becoming more damaged.
Talk to your provider if you feel depressed or anxious.
Stay Away From Infections
Having COPD makes it easier for you to get infections. Get a flu shot every year. Ask your provider if you should get a pneumococcal (pneumonia) vaccine.
Wash your hands often. Always wash after you go to the bathroom and when you are around people who are sick.
Stay away from crowds. Ask visitors who have colds to wear masks or to visit when they're all better.
Save Your Energy at Home
Place items you use often in spots where you do not have to reach or bend over to get them.
Use a cart with wheels to move things around the house and kitchen. Use an electric can opener, dishwasher, and other things that will make your chores easier to do. Use cooking tools (knives, peelers, and pans) that are not heavy.
To save energy:
Going Home With Oxygen
Never change how much oxygen is flowing in your oxygen setup without asking your provider.
Always have a back-up supply of oxygen in the home or with you when you go out. Keep the phone number of your oxygen supplier with you at all times. Learn how to use oxygen safely at home.
Your hospital provider may ask you to make a follow-up visit with:
When to Call the Doctor
Call your provider if your breathing is:
Also call your provider if:
Anderson B, Brown H, Bruhl E, et al. Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement website. Health Care Guideline: Diagnosis and Management of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). 10th edition. www.icsi.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/COPD.pdf. Updated January 2016. Accessed January 22, 2020.
Domínguez-Cherit G, Hernández-Cárdenas CM, Sigarroa ER. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. In: Parrillo JE, Dellinger RP, eds. Critical Care Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 38.
Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) website. Global strategy for the diagnosis, management, and prevention of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: 2020 report. goldcopd.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/GOLD-2020-FINAL-ver1.2-03Dec19_WMV.pdf. Accessed January 22, 2020.
Han MK, Lazarus SC. COPD: clinical diagnosis and management. In: Broaddus VC, Mason RJ, Ernst JD, et al, eds. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 44.
National heart, lungs, and blood institute website. COPD. www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/copd. Updated November 13, 2019. Accessed January 16, 2020.
Review Date: 1/1/2020
Reviewed By: Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, MHS, Paul F. Harron Jr. Associate Professor of Medicine, Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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