If you have COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) you’ll have difficulty breathing. COPD is an umbrella term for several related lung conditions, the most common of which are chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Non-reversible asthma is another common type of COPD. The disease is progressive and there is no cure for it, but doctors can ease the symptoms.
In emphysema it’s hard to breathe in sufficient oxygen, making it a struggle to perform simple tasks. Chronic bronchitis, on the other hand, is an inflammation of your airway. This can lead to a build-up of mucus making it harder to breathe. Refractory (non-reversible) asthma involves the swelling of airways and cannot be treated with normal asthma medications.
COPD may initially have few obvious symptoms, but as the disease progresses, you may notice any of the following:
- Persistent coughing, often producing a lot of mucus
- Wheezing and shortness of breath
- A feeling of tightness in the chest
- Increased breathless or shallowness of breathing
Causes of COPD
Smoking is a common cause. But long-term exposure to poor quality air and/or chemical fumes can bring on the disease. Dusty environments can also damage the lungs and cause COPD to develop. Extreme old age and other ailments can exacerbate the condition, and genetic factors may also be relevant.
Doctors use various tests, including imaging tests, to assess the condition of the lungs.
Blood tests can help diagnose the disease. Ask about a spirometry test.
Treatment will depend on whether the patient has other serious ailments such as diabetes or a heart condition. High blood pressure or depression can also aggravate symptoms of COPD. Generally, COPD is more prevalent in elderly people who are often in a poor state of health anyway. Other patients may feel weak because they have just had surgery.
Each person will have different symptoms and a different medical history so customized care is essential. Great nursing and rehab homes such as Fairview are experts at this.
While there is no cure for COPD, since it is a chronic disease, you can live with it for many years. There are many things doctors can do to help you breathe more easily. Health professionals can manage patients to ensure a continuing good quality of life.
Medication and oxygen therapy are among the more common interventions to treat COPD. In some severe cases surgery may be required, even a lung transplant.
Make sure you get specialist medical advice before taking any medication. Only an experienced health professional will know the side-effects of different medicines. They can also ensure that medication for another ailment does not adversely affect treatment for COPD.
Prevention is always better than a cure. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and living in a clean environment are important for our health generally. You should avoid dusty places or busy streets with high levels of exhaust fumes.
Many older people can become socially isolated. Since mental and physical health are often connected, it’s important to have a healthy social life too. Care homes like Fairview provide excellent recreation activities with opportunities for social interaction. Clients in such homes always say how important this is for their spirits and overall health.
Smoking is a major cause of COPD, so if you are a smoker you should give it up right away.
Another thing you could consider is getting close to nature. If you can spend time in a pleasant park or garden so much the better.
Fairview Rehab and Nursing Home in Queens, New York, has long experience in managing COPD. We provide 24-hour skilled nursing care to adults and seniors. We concentrate on restoring people’s independence with treatments tailored to individual needs.