Though we can’t predict what happens tomorrow, we can try to prepare ourselves for the unexpected by planning ahead. This is especially true if you’re living with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).
According to the American Lung Association, creating an action plan with your healthcare team is one of the most important steps in the management of COPD-related symptoms.
In order for your plan to be effective, however, it should include the following:
- How to talk to your doctor about your individual symptoms
- How to take medications/perform treatment correctly
- How to identify a COPD flare up that requires medical attention
- How to find support and guidance for your condition
In this way, a COPD action plan helps you and your care team stay connected and collaboratively monitor treatment to ensure it’s providing effective relief: “A management plan also helps you track how you are doing, any concerns you may have and any changes in your health that are important to discuss with your doctor.”
Monitoring COPD Symptom Flare Ups
Every person will experience COPD differently. Your symptoms may range from chronic cough and wheezing to frequent respiratory infections and fatigue. When symptoms worsen (i.e. flare up), having a COPD action plan in place can help you know exactly which next steps to take and ensure your doctor is aware of any changes you’re experiencing.
The American Lung Association provides a guided 3-in-1 management tool to help you get started with developing an action plan. It works by having you identify and track your current mood and symptoms for each day. From there, you’re able to follow a series of next steps, depending on your current symptoms. 
Is Your COPD Flare Up Treatment Enough?
Developing a COPD action plan is a great starting point to managing your symptoms, but be sure to also take into account if you’re living with a comorbid condition. If you follow our blog, then you already know how bronchiectasis symptoms can often mirror COPD.
Bronchiectasis can develop after airways become damaged, due to a repeated cycle of respiratory infections. Your airways become abnormally widened, making it difficult to move air in and out of the body—which prevents your lungs from mobilizing and clearing mucus independently. This results in mucus buildup and the spread of bacteria—thus starting the cycle of infection all over again.
Though bronchiectasis shares similarities with COPD, it does require a different approach to treatment.
If you think you’re experiencing a prevalence of bronchiectasis-related symptoms, it’s time to talk to your clinician about making The SmartVest Airway Clearance System a part of your COPD action plan.
SmartVest, a high frequency chest wall oscillation therapy device, helps break the cycle of mucus buildup and infection by delivering repeated pulses of air that gently squeeze and release the upper chest wall.
To learn more about how SmartVest works, help you talk to your doctor about your symptoms, and get an accurate diagnosis, you can request an informational packet today that will include clinical data and information to share with your clinician, as well as prescription forms.
Putting Your COPD Action Plan to Use
In addition to making SmartVest a part of your COPD action plan, there is an easier way to track, monitor, and stay connected with your healthcare team during therapy.
SmartVest Connect helps you log each therapy session and set real-time goals that you can instantly share with your clinician and monitor over time, using any smart device. SmartVest Connect allows you to set reminders and track your performance score each day to help you see how your therapy is working to deliver symptom relief.
Like the 3-in-1 management tool, you can also rate how you’re feeling and leave notes for your health care team to review and respond.
Available for download via the App Store or Google Play, this free app is designed to help you stay on schedule with treatment, as well as take on a more proactive role in your therapy.
Get Support for Your COPD Symptoms
If you have questions about talking to your doctor about making SmartVest a part of your COPD action plan, schedule a time to talk with our Patient Care Advocate, who is also a Respiratory Therapist. Get your questions answered so you have the information you need to feel confident and informed to make the best decision about your treatment plan.
For additional information about COPD, check out our COPD Resource Center to browse helpful online resources and additional blog posts.
 American Lung Association. “COPD Management Tools.” Retrieved from https://www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/copd/living-with-copd/copd-management-tools
 American Lung Association. “My COPD Action Plan.” Retrieved from https://www.lung.org/getmedia/c7657648-a30f-4465-af92-fc762411922e/fy20-ala-copd-action-plan.pdf