Relationships and asking for the help you need (COPD)

7) Work mates

Group of female work colleagues chatting

© Crown Copyright 2009

If you are still working your work mates are another possible source of help. Some may have similar experience of a long term condition but others may not understand what it is like for you when you are unwell.

Make sure you tell someone at work what to do if you are unwell and can’t communicate because of breathlessness. Keep your inhalers with you.

You may have experienced resentment from work colleagues if you have had time off due to your COPD, especially if they have been covering your work as well as their own. This is not your fault.

If your COPD is having an impact on your work, discuss ways to make your working day easier to cope with. For example is your working environment adding to your problems by being too hot/ too cold/too stuffy? Should you be using protective clothing if you work in a dusty environment?

Consider your work mates sensitivity. Some colleagues may find it off putting when you have a productive cough. Try to go to a place away from others where you can clear your chest and throat. Always wash your hands after coughing up phlegm and use disposable tissues.

If you think you are being harassed or unfairly treated at work because of your COPD get advice from your human resources, occupational health or union representative if you have one. Report to your manager and discuss options.