COPD Questions for the Provider

Use this list to help prepare questions for the provider ahead of time. This will help you make the most of your loved one's next appointment.

Helpful Highlights

  • Write down questions a few days in advance to make sure all concerns are included.

  • Do not limit yourself to these questions; ask others as you think of them.

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If your loved one has been diagnosed with chronic pulmonary obstructive disease (COPD), you both will likely have a lot of questions. Your first resource should be the healthcare team, as they can help navigate any confusion or uncertainty. Asking the most relevant questions will help you know what to anticipate and how to take action.

Use this list to help prepare questions for the provider ahead of time. This will help you make the most of your loved one's next appointment.

Questions at diagnosis

  • Discuss when to call in a non-emergency. For example, some doctors want to be called at the first sign of a cold or other respiratory problem. 

  • What will make COPD worse and what can be done to prevent it?

  • What are common indoor and outdoor triggers, and any avoidance tips? 

  • Ask about treatment options - is there a daily treatment that can help?

  • How can symptoms best be managed to allow for continuing daily activities?

  • What are some signs that breathing is getting worse and how should they be addressed?

  • What immunizations or vaccinations are needed?

  • What are some exercises to keep muscles strong, even if my loved one cannot endure prolonged activity?

  • Ask for resources on smoking cessation, if applicable. 

  • If the person you care for has other medical conditions—such as diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, heart disease, or others—ask how those conditions should be considered in the care you give.

  • How do I look after my loved one’s emotional, as well as physical, well-being?

  • It’s common for people with chronic illnesses to become depressed or anxious, how do you recommend approaching this?

  • What can I expect as COPD progresses?

    • Although this may be a difficult conversation, it’s important to know what might happen in the future so you can be prepared. Arm yourself with as much information as possible so that you can make informed choices about future treatment and ongoing care.

  • What do I need to do when planning to travel?

  • If my loved one requires oxygen, how is it handled in various settings?

    • At home, ordering

    • While out running errands

    • At hospitals and other healthcare facilities

    • At the airport, on the plane

Questions regarding treatments

  • Ask about treatment options, especially if what's already prescribed doesn't seem to be working as well as it used to.

  • Is pulmonary rehabilitation recommended?

    • See the Pulmonary Rehabilitation benefit for more information.

  • Ask if oxygen therapy will help, and if so, what form and how often?

  • How do I set up a nutrition plan for my loved one?

    • Are there changes in diet that will help COPD?

Questions regarding medications

  • Is my loved one taking the best meds for COPD?

    • There are many different kinds of medications available, so confirm. This may change over time, so it’s prudent to ask this question regularly.

  • What should I do if a day or a dose of medication is missed?

  • Which medicines should be taken when my loved one is short of breath? Is it OK to use these drugs every day? 

  • What are the side effects of the medicines? For what side effects should I call the provider?

  • How do I know my loved one is correctly using the inhaler?

    • The provider or nurse should offer a demonstration, ask your loved one to return demonstrate and offer suggestions for corrections.

    • Ask if a spacer may be helpful.

  • How will I know when the inhalers are low?

  • When should a nebulizer be used and when should an inhaler be used? 

  • Do I need a rescue pack for symptom flare, and what should be included?

Questions about change in condition

  • How will I and my loved one know if they are having a symptom flare, exacerbation, or their COPD is getting worse?

  • What should I do when my loved one feels like they are not breathing well enough?

  • How can respiratory infections be prevented?

  • Should my loved one continue to take COPD medications if they have a cold or other respiratory infection?

  • Who should I call if my loved one gets worse, and do I have all the contact numbers I need in case of an emergency?

A final, important question

  • Will my loved one be referred to a pulmonologist?*

*A pulmonologist is a physician who specializes in the lungs. In early-stage COPD, it may not be necessary for the primary care provider to refer your loved one to a pulmonologist, though as COPD progresses, the primary care provider will defer to this specialist. This does not mean that your loved one will stop seeing or communicating with their primary care provider, only that the pulmonologist will be the lead provider specifically for COPD.

No content in this app, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

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