What is COPD?
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a disease involving damage to the airways and the natural defence mechanisms of the lungs, usually due to smoking. Typical signs include shortness of breath when exerting yourself, wheeze and production of phlegm.
Why is Covid-19 a risk in COPD?
Damage to the defence mechanisms of the lungs puts patients with COPD at risk of developing chest infections. Covid-19 is a virus that attacks the lungs and causes fever, shortness of breath and a persistent cough.
Are all COPD patients at risk of Covid-19?
Covid-19 can infect anybody, with or without COPD. However, having a diagnosis of COPD and in particular smoking with COPD increases your risk of infection.
The British Thoracic Society advises that all patients with severe COPD are shielded by staying at home for 12 weeks. Patients with severe COPD typically are short of breath at rest and become breathless whilst conducting simple activities of daily living e.g. washing and dressing. You should also have received a text message or email from the government if you are at particular risk.
If you are unsure if you have severe disease please call to discuss this with your general practice team
How can I prepare for winter?
Please click here to download our self-help fact sheet for winter.
How should I use my rescue pack if I have COPD and become unwell?
As part of your COPD management plan, you may have received a rescue pack consisting of steroid tablets (prednisolone) and antibiotics. Not all patients with COPD will have a rescue pack, so if you don’t have one please do not worry about the following advice and call the practice if you have any trouble with your symptoms.
For those people with a rescue pack, we advise the following:
· Oral steroids are not a lifesaving treatment in COPD but can help symptoms clear up faster
· There is some evidence that oral steroid use with Covid-19 may cause negative effects with the disease
· Therefore we are requesting you do not start your oral steroids (prednisolone) without first discussing with your doctor to make sure they are used in the right circumstances
· If you start to bring up yellow/green phlegm or have usual symptoms of exacerbation: please take your antibiotics as advised in your rescue pack because you may have developed a non-Covid-19 chest infection and this should be treated with antibiotics
· Stopping smoking is strongly advised to reduce risk of infection
Consider visiting: www.spaceforcopd.co.uk for further self-management advice
or www.pcrs-uk.org/resource/covid-19-advice-patients for further resources
You may continue to take your inhalers as prescribed. If you have steroid inhalers these do not need to be stopped during this period.If you do not believe you have COPD or have wrongly received this letter, please contact the practice so that we may update our records.