At National Jewish Health, we strive to provide you with all of the tools you need to take control of your lung disease so you can feel better and participate in activities that you enjoy. To this end, you may be scheduled to see a variety of professionals who work together as a team to make sure that you have these tools.
You may be scheduled to see professionals from some or all of the following disciplines:
Pulmonary Physiology Services
Highly skilled staff from Pulmonary Physiology Services will work with you to get detailed information about how well your lungs are functioning. Various tests of your breathing and your ability to exercise may be a part of this. If you have tests scheduled in the Pulmonary Physiology Unit, you will be given descriptions of what to expect before you are actually scheduled for the tests.
Your physician may recommend that you have tests of your blood, sputum (phlegm), or other tests to help better understand your lung disease. If there are any special instructions for you before you take these tests, the staff will explain these to you.
You may be scheduled for specialized X-Rays, ultrasound tests, or other specialized scans of your chest, lungs, heart, or other organs to help your physician better understand your lung disease. Some of these tests may require special instructions for you before you have these tests. If so, the staff will explain these to you.
Pulmonary rehabilitation has been shown to enhance your quality of life by improving your tolerance to daily activities and to decreasing your breathlessness. A referral to Rehabilitation Services will include an assessment of your tolerance to walking, your current muscle strength and endurance, and your overall fitness. Once your specific needs are defined, you will be instructed in an individualized exercise program and while in the program you will learn how to monitor and adjust your home program for ongoing success.
Having lung and breathing problems may lead to you feeling down or anxious about all the changes in your life. We also know that the way you think and feel about your disease has an impact on its management. The health and behavioral evaluation is an assessment of what challenges you might face in dealing with your COPD as well as the strengths you bring to fighting this illness. At the end of your meeting with the psychologist, you and our medical team will have a better understanding of the non-physical part of your health. Together with the psychologist, you will also develop a plan to help you to stay on top of the emotional, behavioral, and social challenges you face in living with COPD.
If you are experiencing symptoms of memory loss or other cognitive concerns (e.g., attention, reasoning, verbal difficulties), your physician may refer you for a cognitive evaluation through our neuropsychology program. A neuropsychological evaluation involves completing paper-and-pencil tests of brain function to identify your cognitive strengths and weaknesses. The results can help you and the Pulmonary Rehabilitation team to adapt treatment plans according to your specific cognitive strengths and weaknesses.
As part of our Clinical Nutrition Services, a registered dietitian (RD) reviews the patient's current diet and supplements to ensure adequate calories, protein, vitamins, minerals, and fluids. Diet plays an important role in our body's immune system and our general well-being. Maintaining an appropriate weight can improve lung function, reduce risks for diseases, and improve our long-term health.
If you are a smoker, your physician will work with you to give you the tools you need to help you quit smoking. You may be referred to the smoking cessation clinic where you will meet with a nurse practitioner or other professional who will help you find ways to quit smoking that might work for you.
Problems with your breathing while you sleep are often difficult to detect. Your physician may recommend that you visit the Sleep Center to evaluate this. If so, the staff will give you specific instructions about this and what you can expect.
Depending on your individual needs, your physician may recommend that you see other specialists, including other physicians, respiratory therapists, and nurses.