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This information was reviewed and approved by Russell P. Bowler, MD, PhD, Irina Petrache, MD (3/1/2021).

At one time or another, people with COPD think about various tough questions that can be hard to discuss with anyone. If you find yourself wondering about any of these questions, discuss them with your doctor.

Make a list of your questions to help you remember.


Some of the Tough Questions

Although your doctor is unlikely to be able to give you exact answers to these questions, he or she should be able to give you enough information to help put your mind at ease, and to find other sources of help, information and support. Some of the questions we have heard include:

  • "Will there come a time when I can't take care of myself and need to be in a nursing home?"
  • "How long do I have to live?"
  • "What is it like to die of COPD? Will it hurt? Will it feel like I'm drowning?"

Talk with your health care provider about advance directives. An advance directive is a written legal document expressing your wishes if you become seriously ill and are unable to express your own wishes.

Palliative care is another option to discuss with your health care provider. Palliative care addresses the discomforts caused by symptoms of disease and side effects of treatment, the goals of care and the hopes of patients and family members.


Issues to Bring Up With Your Doctor

In addition to discussing the tough questions with your doctor, there are many other issues regarding your life with COPD that you should bring up with your doctor. Below is a list of issues we think is important for you to discuss with your doctor. Feel free to add your own issues to the categories.

Medication or Treatment Issues

  • Problems or issues relating to my oxygen
  • When to take medications
  • When to stop taking medications
  • How to use inhalers
  • Side effects 

Physical Issues

  • Quitting smoking
  • Healthy eating and exercise programs
  • Sleeping problems
  • The future 

Emotional Issues

  • Memory changes
  • Emotional changes
  • Fears and coping questions
  • Signs of depression
  • Advance directives

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