Best Way Get Help For Medical Emergency In Two-Story House Dealing With Sudden Episodes of Shortness of Breath

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Dealing With Sudden Episodes of Shortness of Breath

With COPD, there are many things that can cause difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Different things trigger shortness of breath in different people, but sometimes it seems to happen for no reason. What can you do if this happens?

First, do your best to stay calm. I know, it’s challenging to stay calm when there seems to be no wind. Practice your pursed-lip breathing and try this mantra: Say to yourself slowly, “I’m breathing in… I’m breathing out”.

If you have a quick relief inhaler, use it. If you wear oxygen, put it on. Do a quick scan of your surroundings: is there anything that could be triggering it? If you have persistent chest pain, or your shortness of breath gets worse a second time, call emergency services immediately. If you can stand, assume the position: hands on the back of a chair, or on a table or counter, leaning slightly forward. This expands the rib cage, allowing you to expel excess carbon dioxide and take in a big breath of fresh air.

There are many factors that can cause shortness of breath. It is important to know what may be causing these frightening episodes. Often, it’s not so much a physical trigger, but a lack of best practices. For example:

(1) Have you taken your medicine and inhaler today? Often, people with a good maintenance routine feel better and forget to take their maintenance inhaler or other important medications.

(2) Are you doing too much at once? COPD slows people down. Then, on a good day, said person will try and catch up on all the things that weren’t done last week. Remember to pace yourself with your daily activities.

(3) Did you hold your breath? Sometimes we simply forget to breathe, much less practice our pursed-lip techniques. Something seemingly benign like watching a scary TV show or movie (how’s the news?) overwhelms us and we hold our breath in the suspense of it all.

(4) If you were given oxygen with the activity, did you avoid wearing your oxygen with the activity? I can’t tell you how many of my patients need oxygen with activity, but tell me they put it on while they’re sitting down, but go to use the bathroom or get something from the kitchen. This is the back! I know this 100-foot oxygen hose is a pain, but please don’t risk low oxygen levels and heart damage just to do something for a few minutes.

So, what can you do to prevent these episodes from hitting you unexpectedly? Here are some tips. Again, if you can’t catch your breath or have chest pains, call emergency services immediately.

Make sure your medications are optimized. Schedule a medication review with your MD or pharmacist at least once a year to make sure you are not taking any duplicate or conflicting medications.

Scan your home environment. Do you need to de-clutter a little? A little too dusty? Do you need help with this task? If you find that doing chores chokes you, (especially those that kick up a lot of dust) hire someone to do them for you. Splurge once a month to have someone deep-clean, dust and vacuum. You deserve it!

Post your personal action plan to remind you what to do in what order. You may even forget to use your inhaler, or forget to use your pursed-lip breathing techniques, because of a panic episode.

Keep a fan handy, whether it’s a personal hand-held fan or a large floor-stand fan. Turn it on and stand or sit in front of it for a few minutes.

For long-term benefits, consider joining a pulmonary rehab program or starting a regular exercise program. Regular exercise has been shown to help people with COPD. Make sure you are exercising within safe limits for you.

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