- How did I get COPD?
In New Zealand, about 85% of COPD cases are caused by smoking.1 Smoke is also a main trigger for COPD breathing problems and flare-ups.
Quitting smoking can dramatically improve your breathing. It may take several attempts to quit for good, but there are a number of effective programmes that can help you quit.
However, not all COPD cases are caused by smoking. Other causes for COPD can include:
- Second-hand smoke
- Air pollution (dust or chemicals)
- Repeated lung infections as a child
- Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (a rare condition)
Whether or not your COPD was caused by smoking there are ways to help manage your breathing difficulties. Talk to your doctor for further information.
- Will quitting smoking help me or is it too late?
Itís never too late to quit smoking.
Smoking is a tough habit to overcome. Quitting for good can take several attempts using different ways, but the results are very much worth the effort.
In fact, the health benefits of quitting start within hours. Click here to see a smoke-free benefits timeline.
Quitting can help prevent further damage to your lungs, reduce your COPD flare-ups, and slow down the disease.
- Why do I feel like Iím not getting enough air?
COPD gradually damages the breathing tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs. Airways become swollen and partly blocked by phlegm (pronounced "flem"). COPD also damages the tiny air sacs at the tips of your airways, making it harder to breathe.
The main symptoms of COPD are:
- Persistent cough
- Coughing up phlegm
- Shortness of breath
COPD symptoms are primarily caused by two conditions:
- Airway constriction
- Airway inflammation
Click here to find out more about COPD.
- Can anxiety and stress cause breathing difficulties?
Emotional upsets and anxiety can cause breathing difficulties. If you are highly stressed and are having trouble breathing, ask your doctor for advice on coping with stress.
Breathing Control Techniques
Shortness of breath can also create anxiety, which makes breathing even more difficult. Knowing how to control your breathing will help you stay calm and relaxed when youíre short of breath. Talk to your healthcare professional about ways to manage your breathing.
- Can I stop taking Seretide if Iím feeling better?
No! Do not stop taking Seretide even if you are feeling better. If necessary, your doctor can provide information on how to slowly stop your COPD treatment, but do not change your dose unless told to by your doctor.
When taken twice a day every day, the two types of medicine in Seretide will help manage your breathing difficulties.
COPD affects different people in different ways and symptoms may vary over time. Follow your COPD action plan, if you have one, and talk to your doctor if your symptoms worsen.
- Can I become addicted to Seretide?
No, you cannot become addicted to Seretide. Itís a myth that the longer you take your medications, the more medication youíll eventually need.
COPD is a chronic lung disease. People with COPD often have a permanent narrowing of the airways, leading to breathing difficulties. While COPD canít be cured, you can help manage those symptoms.
If your COPD gets worse, follow your COPD action plan, if you have one, and talk to your doctor.
Click here to learn more about Seretide.
Seretide should not be used to relieve a sudden attack of breathlessness or wheezing.
If you get this sort of attack you must use a quick acting inhaler (e.g. Ventolin) also known as a reliever puffer. Always carry your blue Ventolin reliever inhaler with you.
If you feel you are getting breathless or wheezy more often than normal, or you are using your reliever inhaler more than usual, you should go to your doctor.
- How does Seretide work to treat my COPD?
COPD symptoms are primarily caused by two conditions:
- Airway constriction
- Airway inflammation
To help manage both airway inflammation and airway constriction, Seretide is a combination maintenance medication that uses two medication types:
- Long-≠Acting Bronchodilators (LABA)
- Inhaled Corticosteroids (ICSs)
Long-Acting Bronchodilators Inhaled Corticosteroids Seretide contains a long-acting bronchodilator, which relaxes the smooth muscle surrounding the airways, helping keep the airways of the lungs open. Seretide also contains Inhaled Corticosteroids (ICSs). When inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting bronchodilators are taken regularly, they reduce the swelling and irritation in the small air passages of the lungs. When ICSs and long-acting bronchodilators are taken regularly, they reduce the swelling and irritation in the small air passages of the lungs.
Click here to learn more about Seretide
When you regularly take Seretide twice a day every day, these two ingredients can help manage your COPD symptoms throughout the day and night.
- Should I save taking Seretide for when my COPD symptoms get really serious?
No, do not save Seretide for when your COPD symptoms get really serious.
Seretide is prescribed for people with COPD who need a daily maintenance treatment to help manage their COPD.
It is a daily maintenance medication designed to help control your breathing difficulties, so itís essential to keep taking your Seretide twice a day every day. Even if youíre feeling better, do not suddenly stop taking Seretide.
If your COPD becomes out of control, follow your COPD action plan, if you have one, and talk to your doctor.
- Does Seretide treat other respiratory infections, such as chest infections?
No. Seretide is a daily maintenance medication designed to help control your breathing difficulties. It is is not an antibiotic and does not treat chest infections.
If you think you have a chest infection, see your doctor immediately. Itís important even mild chest infections are treated right away.
You should also avoid close contact with people who have colds or the flu. Talk to your doctor about getting the flu vaccine. In New Zealand, the flu season starts in March and lasts until July. The flu vaccine is widely available from clinics and healthcare providers starting in early March.
Thorough hand washing can help prevent you from getting sick, and it also reduces the risk of infecting others. Always wash and dry your hands thoroughly.
- What are the usual side effects of Seretide?
Medicines affect different people in different ways. Just because side effects have occurred in other patients does not mean you will get them. If any side effects bother you, please contact your doctor.
Most people taking this medicine find that it causes no problems. As with all medicines, a few people may find that it causes side effects.
Some people can be allergic to medicines. If you have any of the following symptoms soon after taking Seretide, STOP taking this medicine and tell your doctor immediately.
- Sudden wheeziness and chest pain or tightness
- Swelling of eyelids, face or lips
- Lumpy skin rash or "hives" anywhere on the body.
Some people very occasionally find that their mouth, throat or tongue becomes sore or that their voice becomes hoarse after inhaling this medicine. Gargling with water and spitting it out immediately after each dose may help. Cleaning dentures may also help. Tell your doctor but do not stop treatment unless told to do so.
Also tell your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Headache, muscle cramps, skin rash or trembling, increase in pulse rate or irregular heartbeat.
A commonly reported side effect in patients with COPD is pneumonia (lung infection).
It is possible that in some patients, particularly those taking higher doses of this type of medication, may very rarely suffer from the following side effects:
- Rounded face, loss of bone density, eye problems
- An increase in sugar (glucose) and blood.
Consult your doctor if you are worried about yourself.
Very rarely the person taking the medicine may feel anxious, have disturbed sleep or notice an increased irritability.
This is not a complete list of side-effects. If you have any other unexpected effects or symptoms that you do not understand, tell your doctor or pharmacist.
- Are the steroids used in Seretide the same as performance-enhancing (anabolic) steroids?
- Salmeterol, a long acting beta-agonist (LABA)
- Fluticasone propionate, a corticosteroid (ICS).
Corticosteroids are not the same as anabolic steroids some athletes and body-builders may use to build up their muscles and increase strength.
Corticosteriods are inhaled and used to treat breathing problems because they help reduce inflammation. Anabolic steroids are swallowed. Corticosteriods work in the lungs (the problem area) reducing the likelihood of absorption into other parts of the body.
- How can I know that I'm taking my Seretide correctly?
To make sure youíre getting the best possible dose of medicine into your lungs, itís important to take your Seretide correctly. Your doctor, healthcare provider, or pharmacist can demonstrate how to use your COPD inhaler properly.
Every Seretide package includes illustrated step-by-step instructions.
You can also click on this link to see illustrated online instructions.
- Is there a test to see if my COPD is well managed?
Yes, there is a test to see if your COPD is well-managed.
Helping improve your COPD management includes routinely checking your condition. Take the COPD Assessment Test (CAT) regularly to measure the impact COPD is having on your health and daily life.
Click here to take the online COPD Assessment Test.
Your answers and test score can be used to help improve your COPD management so remember to bring the completed test to your doctor!
- What should I know about exercising with COPD?
Exercise is a crucial part of your COPD management.
- Exercise and staying active can help reduce shortness of breath.
- Heart and breathing muscles that are in shape require less oxygen. While exercise doesnít reverse COPD, it can help improve your everyday quality of life.
- Exercise helps you control and reduce your weight. Excess fat around the stomach is more likely to press on your diaphragm, making breathing more difficult.
- Exercise builds your strength and endurance. The more you exercise, the easier routine activities, like shopping, cooking, and cleaning become easier.
- Exercise helps your level of activity, independence, and improves your feeling of well-being.
Always consult your doctor before starting an exercise programme. Determine the best exercise routine for you and whether you should use supplemental oxygen or medical supervision during your workouts.
- Can the environment affect my COPD?
Yes, the environment can affect your COPD.
Your breathing can be affected by both indoor and outdoor environments. Since you have more control over your indoor environment than the outdoors, keeping your home, workplace, and frequently-used areas smoke-free, clean and dry will help reduce your COPD triggers.
The outdoors can be more of a challenge. Dust and pollen from many kilometres away can be easily blown into your area.
Cold air and strong winds may irritate your condition. If so, cover your nose and mouth with a loosely wrapped scarf and breathe through your nose. A scarf helps warm the air before it gets to your lungs.
Keep track of public announcements about air quality. On hot, humid days or smoggy days, stay indoors in a cool room or find an air-conditioned public building like a library where you can relax.
- How will I be able to tell when my COPD is getting worse?
Improving your COPD management includes routinely checking your condition. There are warning signs that show your chest condition is worsening. You should contact your doctor as soon as possible if you notice:
- An unusual increase or decrease in the amount of phlegm.
- An unusual increase in the consistency and stickiness of the phlegm.
- The presence of blood in phlegm.
- A change in the colour of the phlegm to brown, yellow or green.
- An unusual increase in the severity of the breathlessness, cough or wheeze.
- Symptoms of a cold (e.g. sore throat).
- Unexplained tiredness or fever.
- Chest tightness.
- Unexplained swelling.
- The necessity to increase the number of pillows in order to sleep comfortably.
If your COPD is not properly managed, follow your COPD action plan (if you have one) and talk to your doctor.