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  • Writer's pictureNikita Chand

COPD – Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease – Tips for our Caregivers

COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) patients have poor lung/ respiratory function that will always affect their quality of life. These patients may get short of breath easily with movement or exertion.

They usually require the use of “puffers” to help with their shortness of breath. Puffers are also known as MDI’s (metered dose inhalers) There are different types of puffers they may use throughout the dayThe purpose of these inhalers is to help with opening up the constricted airways so that more oxygen can reach the lungs.

Common types of inhalers are Ventolin (Salbutamol), Atrovent (Albuterol), Spiriva, Flovent (Fluticosone).

It will be your job to help these patients with setting up and using their Inhalers. Your patient should be using their inhaler with an attachment device known as an AeroChamber. This device has been shown to effectively increase the delivery of the medication into the lungs.

If you observe your patient is showing signs of shortness of breath such as: increased breathing, heavy breathing, complaints of shortness of breath, confusion, tiring easily with activity, then you must intervene. Have them stop what they are doing and sit down. Explain to them that they are showing signs of shortness of breath and need their inhaler.

The main inhaler that should be given when someone is experiencing shortness of breath is the Ventolin inhaler. This inhaler is also known as the rescue inhaler as it will rapidly open up the constricted airways to get more oxygen into the lungs.

Shake the canister of the inhaler and attach it to the AeroChamber then give it to the patient. As they take a breath in administer the medication. Give a total of two puffs, 2 minutes apart.

Deep breathing and purse lip breathing is also effective with COPD patient. Have the patient take a deep breath in and exhale through there lips brought close together like slowly blowing thru a straw. Have them do this 5 to 10 times.

Home Oxygen

If your patient’s COPD is very severe, they may require home oxygen.

The oxygen may be given at a rate of 0.5 to 6L of oxygen with nasal prongs. They may only need the oxygen during the day or at night. It will be your responsibility to make sure their oxygen tank is changed when it is running low. Also, you will need to adjust the flow rate as needed in case your patient requires more oxygen when they are experiencing shortness of breath. Your supervisor will show you how to do this confidently.

NEVER any smoking around oxygen tanks as they are combustible !

Many COPD patients with home oxygen can live comfortably in their home with minimal assistance.

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