Advice for People Living with COPD
COPD Support Ireland is in contact with the HSE, the National Clinical Programme Respiratory and the Department of Health in relation to COVID 19 and the specific concerns of People with COPD. We are also on the National Public Health Emergency Team Vulnerable People Sub-group.
On the 27th March the Government issued guidance on ‘Cocooning to protect people over 70 years of age and those extremely medically vulnerable from COVID-19’ by minimising all interaction between them and others. This includes people with severe COPD.
Please click on this link to access the latest HPSC Advice on Cocooning.
HSE advice has also been updated and includes advice specifically for People with COPD.
As people with COPD have been identified as one of the groups more at risk of serious illness if they catch coronavirus it is really important to heed all the recommended precautions to avoid contracting the disease. Please ensure that you are getting the most accurate and up-to-date information on the virus, the symptoms, the risks and protective measures through trusted sources such as the HSE, Department of Health and COPD Support Ireland.
In addition we urge you to do all you can to ensure your COPD is well managed at this time. Here are some tips to help you do this:
- Know your COPD triggers in order to avoid them where possible – for example, avoid smoky environments and pollutants like dust, smog, or foggy weather.
- Monitor your symptoms and know what is usual for you. This will help in assessing if you need to alter your medication or start treatment early for exacerbations.
- Know when and how to seek help – if you have an exacerbation or if you are experiencing a “new” fever or “new” cough contact your GP.
- Do not go to your GP’s surgery unless advised by GP staff.
- Have an up-to-date Communications Card which will help you manage your COPD – download one here.
- Take all your medication and ensure you are using your inhaler correctly – check the Inhaler Technique page of the Asthma Society for demonstrations of all the inhalers on the Irish market here.
- If you are on regular antibiotics continue these unless advised otherwise by your doctor.
- If your inhaler requires a spacer, we recommend you use one to ensure best medication delivery – check out our information on spacer usage here.
- Ensure that you have one month’s supply of your medication to hand.
- If you have a backup prescription for steroids and antibiotics ( rescue pack) ensure that you have your supply of these and that they are in date.
- If you use a nebuliser and have symptoms of COVID infection- new cough and or fever continue to nebulise BUT distance from other family members as the droplets (mist) may increase the risk of virus spread to others.
- If you use a CPAP or Non invasive ventilator continue to use as normal but distance from other family members as these are considered aerosol generating devices.
- Keep all your equipment such as nebulisers or CPAP clean by wiping down/washing after use. WASH YOUR HANDS WITH WARM SOAPY WATER BEFORE AND AFTER USE.
- If you have a scheduled hospital or other medical appointment during this period, talk to your GP or specialist to ensure you continue to receive the care you need and determine which of these are absolutely essential. It is possible that your hospital may need to cancel or postpone some clinics and appointments. You should contact your hospital or clinic to confirm appointments.
- Do not smoke and avoid smoky environments.
- Continue with your exercise by exercising safely at home. Using tins of beans or bottles of water for weights or doing some sit-to-stands/ march-on-the-spot will go a long way.
- Eat well – a balanced diet boosts energy and promotes a strong immune system to help fight infections.
- Breathe easier – use controlled breathing techniques and chest clearance to help get rid of phlegm and aid relaxation.
- Mind your head, as well as your lungs. The feelings of stress and anxiety that can be a common part of living with COPD are likely to be even more pronounced at this time. It is important to recognise these responses and look at ways to cope with the mental as well as the physical challenges – breathing techniques, staying in touch with family, friends and support group peers by phone, trying your best to keep a routine and avoiding over-reliance on social media as source of information will all help.
Call the COPD Adviceline if you have queries about coronavirus and your COPD – 1800 832146.
Call HSE Live on 1850 24 1850 if you have concerns about Covid-19 (Coronavirus)
Download COPD Support Ireland’s advice booklet – COPD and Me for more information on managing your COPD here.
Download the HSE’s Self-care Plan here