What your patient might say

I can’t seem to shake off this cough. I don’t like to go out as much, I’m coughing all the time and I find it embarrassing when I cough up phlegm.

This is the third lot of antibiotics I’ve had this year! It takes me longer to recover every time.

I need to get the bus more often, I can’t walk as far as I used to without getting breathless.

I can’t get a good nights sleep. I’m waking up in the night feeling breathless/coughing. I need to prop myself up with so many pillows to stop feeling breathless.

Bending down is difficult. I am breathless and struggle to get my shoes on or pick things up.

I’m not enjoying my food anymore. I struggle to get through my dinner without getting breathless.

I just don’t have the energy to do as much. I’ve had to stop going to my exercise/activity class/looking after the grandchildren.

The house and the garden are a mess as I’m too tired to manage them.

My breathing gets so noisy sometimes.

To help describe the level of perceived breathlessness and activity the patient/client is experiencing, the Medical Research Council have developed a five point scale.

Not troubled by breathlessness except on strenuous exercise.
Short of breath when hurrying or walking up a slight hill.
Walks slower than contemporaries on the level because of breathlessness, or has to stop for breath when walking at own pace.
Stops for breath after about 100 m or after a few minutes on the level.
Too breathless to leave the house, or breathless when dressing or undressing.