On first impressions, COPD may seem like one single disease. Actually, as you’ll know if you’ve recently been diagnosed, it’s a lot more complex than that. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease consists of a number of different lung diseases, all of which make it difficult to breathe.
No matter what form of COPD you’re dealing with, doctors commonly categorise the disease into different stages to help give a more accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. They’ll refer to this system as the GOLD grading system. You’ve probably never heard of this before, but the general purpose of the system is to rate the severity of your condition in order to appropriately treat it.
The GOLD System
The GOLD system is based on the following:
- The symptoms you’re displaying.
- How your COPD has progressed, and how often it has worsened.
- Your number of hospital stays, if any, when your COPD has worsened.
- Test results from a spirometry, which measures how quickly you exhale, and the volume of air that is released.
Once your doctor has assessed your current condition, based on the GOLD system, they’ll grade you according to the severity of your symptoms, the results from your spirometry test, the potential for your COPD to worsen, and any other health problems you may be dealing with.
With these factors in mind, your doctor will put you into a COPD group from A to D:
Group A – You’re at a lower risk, with less severe symptoms.
Group B – Your risk is still relatively low, but you have more symptoms.
Group C – You’re at a high risk, with a moderate display of symptoms.
Group D – Your risk is high, and you have a large number of symptoms.
If your doctor places you in group A or group B, you’ll be able to manage your symptoms more effectively through treatment, and you may have more treatment options available for you. That said, being placed in a higher risk category doesn’t mean there’s no hope for treating your condition. If you’re looking for more info on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, do your research or ask for specific educational materials from your doctor.
Diet And Lifestyle Changes
In all cases, your doctor will recommend you implement some diet and lifestyle changes to keep your symptoms under control. These recommendations include:
Quit smoking if you’re a smoker – Smoking is one of the main causes of COPD, and if you continue to smoke, your condition will only ever deteriorate.
Avoid poor-quality air – Inhaling air that contains chemicals, pollution, dust, smoke, and other environmental factors is a major COPD trigger. On days where the air is forecast to be poor, stay indoors whenever you can.
Get flu shots and other vaccines – Take advantage when they’re offered by your local GP to avoid serious infection. Pneumonia and similar infections can worsen your COPD symptoms and can be fatal.
Eat a diet of healthy food – Lean proteins are essential for maintaining strong respiratory muscles, while a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help you to lose weight.
Exercise frequently – Without overdoing it. Mild exercise can help strengthen your respiratory muscles and the surrounding muscles.