If you turn on the TV in the evenings, you’ve probably seen at least one commercial for COPD medication. What is COPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease? The commercials describe it as a condition in which a person has a hard time getting air into their lungs, and a hard time releasing the air in their lungs. Some commercials have even likened it to trying to breathe while an elephant sits on your lungs.
But what causes COPD and can it be managed?
What Is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)?
COPD is a chronic lung disease. And unfortunately, as serious as it is, it’s also extremely common. According to some estimates, nearly 16 million people have been diagnosed with the condition, while 16 million more have the symptoms but have yet to be diagnosed.
This lung disease is made up of one or two other types of lung diseases – namely, chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
A patient with COPD can have either chronic bronchitis or emphysema, or they can suffer from both. Either way, the disease makes it difficult for air to get into their lungs, making their breathing slow and shallow.
These diseases damage the lungs, making it more difficult to prevent and fight off other illnesses, such as the common cold, because their lungs can’t get rid of the mucous buildup. When a patient with COPD gets a cold, it can quickly settle in their chest and become pneumonia.
You can be at risk of developing COPD if you:
- Are a smoker
- Have been exposed to second-hand smoke
- Have been exposed to chemicals, dust, fumes, or other indoor pollutants
- Have been diagnosed with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, a genetic disorder
Symptoms of COPD include:
- Chronic coughing
- Increased breathlessness
- Tightness in the chest
Besides difficulty breathing, COPD can also result in other health conditions. The blood and organs aren’t receiving adequate oxygen, and the blood flow from the heart to the lungs isn’t sufficient, which can result in high blood pressure.
Additionally, according to the Cleveland Clinic, lung conditions can make the body produce more red blood cells. This causes the blood to thicken, which makes it even more difficult to pump. Patients can also develop an enlarged heart and experience extremity swelling.
Fortunately, COPD can be treated and successfully managed!
How You and Your Caregiver Can Manage COPD
If you or a loved one is experiencing the symptoms of COPD, the first step toward managing your symptoms is to get a diagnosis. After all, the goal should be to manage the disease, not just its symptoms.
When you visit your doctor for a diagnosis, they will find out what’s causing the disease and then give you some management options.
One of the best things you can do for the health of your lungs is to quit smoking, or reduce your exposure to second-hand smoke.
Your doctor will also likely prescribe you some medications, the most common of which is an inhaler. Used correctly, an inhaler can help you breathe easier.
However, improper use of an inhaler or other COPD medications has been shown to exacerbate symptoms of the disease. Make sure you or your loved one follows the doctor/pharmacist instructions.
Another option for COPD patients is oxygen therapy. This treatment ensures that they receive adequate oxygen to keep their body healthy and prevent other illnesses.
In addition to prescribing medication, your doctor may suggest that you take part in a pulmonary resuscitation program.
These programs will provide you (and your caregiver) with counseling services, which can make lifestyle changes even easier. They will also provide you with exercises you can do to strengthen your body without putting too much pressure on your lungs.
Intrepid USA Home Health Care Workers Can Help
At Intrepid USA, our goal is to help make life easier and more comfortable for patients and their families. For patients dealing with COPD and other chronic conditions, taking care of chores around the house and running errands can be really difficult.
Thankfully, with help from home health workers from Intrepid, you can be confident that these tasks will be cared for. And if you or your loved one needs help with medications or other medical or wellbeing needs – we are here for you.
You don’t have to deal with this on your own. Ask Intrepid for help and we’ll make your life – and those of your loved ones – easier, more comfortable, and more enjoyable.