COPD- After the Diagnosis

Instead of the being out of breath just because of age, you now know that it is COPD chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Just doing common household chores or taking a walk can make the majority of COPD patients experience shortness of breath. This disorder includes a group of lung problems that affect the ability to breathe. The two specific ailments are emphasema and chronic bronchitis. These are lung diseases that slowly kill lung tissue and are incurable.

The lung disease is determined by taking a test called a spirometry. This tells how much air you breathe and blow out. This also tells what medications might help to allow more effective air to flow and open the airways that would be best for you. The patient can get back to a more normalized life by following the doctor’s treatment plan and by stopping smoking.

By not smoking or being around second hand smoke, your symptoms won’t go away. Lung tissue will continue to die. The severity of the COPD symptoms depends on the diseases stage at the time of diagnosis, and your lung capacity.

Your doctor may make several reccomendations. To help manage symptoms he may want you to start using a bronchodilator or corticosteroids. The bronchodilator relaxes the smooth muscle of the respiratory tract. And to reduce swelling in the airway, she or he may prescribe an anti-inflammatory for the cortiocosteriods. These both will help the patient will be less winded, and breathe better.

Because of the dammage to the lungs, pneumonia and flu are two ailments that a COPD patient would have trouble recovering from and fighting off as well. So it is important to get a flu and pneumonia shot annually.

If a person with COPD doesn’t stop smoking, they can depend on their symptoms to continue to become more intense. But if the patient can quit smoking, the symptoms will not worsen. And if the COPD was detected in it’s early stages, there may not be any number of lifestyle changes that can help.

It’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about going to rehab. This is pulmonary rehabilitation, and is a structured exercise program which help improve the ability to exercise, decrease the need to visit the doctor so much, and improve quality of life. You may also want to ask about a nutrional consultation and talk about daily calorie intake and weight. It is much easier to get around if you aren’t carrying extra weight. Aerobic exercises strengthen the lungs, so taking a walk, bike ride, or getting any kind of aerobic exercise is a good idea. A support group called “Better Breathers” is offered through most hospitals for those who feel they might enjoy talking with others with the same disease.

It’s a good idea to do a review of all medical and COPD medications with the doctor from time to time. Make sure that none of the medications might be working against another. Discuss with your doctor what you are able to do in the future, and any changes that have taken place in your life. What’s new today versus how it was on your last visit? Tell your doctor about any side effects you might be having.

Most people with COPD can manage their situation with minimal caregiving. But it is nice to have a spouse or adult child who can listen for how the COPD patient may feel or to make sure they are taking their medications. These caregivers can also listen for breathing difficulities and any side- effects the patient may be having. These caregivers should be present at the exercise programs or the Better Breathers sessions, so they are educated and know what is expected of the patient. By the same account, these caregivers should be careful not to get stressed or over-worked and reach burnout. Eating right, exercising, and getting 7-8 hours of sleep daily is important. We all need a break sometimes.

Remaining smoke free is very important and that includes second-hand smoke.

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