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Talking to Your Doctor About Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:

Condition InDepth

Talking to Your Doctor About Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

You have your own health history. Talk with your doctor about your risk factors and background with COPD. By talking openly and often with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care.

Tips for Getting Information

Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your doctor:

  • Bring someone with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask. They may also be able to provide more details to the doctor.
  • Write down your questions so do you do not forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get and make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for help if you need it.
  • Do not be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information. You have a right to know.
  • Think about keeping a diary of your symptoms, triggers, and a list of your medicines. Share this with your doctor at every visit.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor

About Your Risk of Developing COPD

  • Based on my health history, lifestyle, and family background, am I at risk for COPD?
  • Are there genetic tests I should have to see if I am likely to develop COPD?
  • How do I lower my risk of COPD?
  • How can my lungs be checked and how often should they be checked?

About Treatment Options

  • How do I best treat COPD?
  • What medicines are right for me?
    • What are the benefits and side effects?
    • Will these medicines cause problems with the other medicines, over the counter products, or dietary or herbal supplements I am already taking?
  • Are there any alternative or complementary therapies that will help me?
  • Will I need surgery for COPD?
  • Would I benefit from a pulmonary rehabilitation program?

About Lifestyle Changes

  • Are there dietary changes I should make? How do I go about it?
  • Should I stop drinking alcohol?
  • How can I find help to quit smoking?

About Outlook

  • How will I know that my treatment plan is working?
  • Can you suggest a support group?
  • Will I still be able to work and take part in activities?
  • What is my long term outlook?


  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). American Lung Association website. Available at: https://www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/copd.
  • COPD. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/copd.
  • Getting the most out of your doctor appointment. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/tips-for-talking-to-your-doctor.
  • What is COPD? National Heart Lung and Blood Institute website. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/copd.


  • Mark Arredondo, MD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.