What is COPD?
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a serious illness that affects ones’ ability to breathe. More than 15 million are diagnosed with COPD, and an equal number of people don’t even know they have the disease! COPD develops over time and usually affects people who have been exposed to pollutants. First and second-hand smoking is the number one cause of COPD, followed by long-term exposure to chemicals and fumes. With COPD, the lung’s bronchial tubes become inflamed, lose their shape, and become blocked with mucus. Moreover, the alveoli walls – or the lung’s air sacs – begin to deteriorate, making it harder for oxygen to reach the bloodstream.
Symptoms of COPD include chronic coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, ask your healthcare provider for a spirometry test. A spirometry test involves blowing air into a tube that measures your lung functions. Your doctor may also recommend a chest X-ray, a CT scan, or a arterial blood gas test, which measures the amount of oxygen in your bloodstream. These tests will help determine if you have COPD and whether you need oxygen therapy.
Unfortunately, COPD only gets worse overtime, and at present there is no cure. COPD treatment will help alleviate your symptoms, improve your lung health, increase your daily lung function, decrease hospital admissions and re-admissions, and improve your overall quality of life. Therefore, the sooner you get a diagnosis, the better your prognosis will be.
In order to manage COPD, you must stop smoking. Every year, cigarette smoking causes 480,000 deaths in the US, and second-hand smoking causes 42,000 deaths. Help yourself and your caregivers by stopping smoking. There are several techniques that you can employ to help you quit. Medications, nicotine replacement therapy, and support groups – including counseling and group programs – are just a few options you have to explore. By discontinuing smoking, your lung functions will immediately improve, COPD symptoms will be reduced, and your risk of dying from another lung-related disease – including lung cancer – will decrease. Talk to your nurse or medical care provider to see which method will be best for you.
Take your medications!
Our days can be stressful and hectic, and keeping track of medications may be the last thing on your list. Yet understanding and managing your medicine regime is crucial for handling COPD. Take a few minutes to establish a daily medication routine. This can include taking your pills with another daily vitamin or before going to bed at night. Be consistent with the time you take your pill so that it becomes a habit. Have a spouse or a loved one help remind you to take your pills and keep you accountable. Medicine checklists and pillboxes are also good tools to keep track of when you take your pill and which pills you’ve already taken. It’ll also help you keep track of how many pills you have left so that you can refill your prescription in time.
It is never too late to make a lifestyle change. Follow some of these tips.
Eat small, more frequent, well-balanced meals.
Use smaller plates will help with portion control, as it tricks the mind
into thinking your eating more!
Stay Hydrated. Buy a water bottle, as this will act as a reminder to keep drinking water throughout the day.
Keep Active. Staying active may be daunting, especially if you’re having trouble with your lungs. Even if it’s walking a few steps every hour, you are improving your COPD outlook. For extra incentive, get a step counter to keep track of your steps. You may be surprised by how much – or how little – your moving, and this will help you make appropriate changes. Some ways to increase your physical activity can be as small as parking further away from your destination if you’re driving, calling a friend and walking together, or using your watch or phone alarms to get you to move every hour.
Sleep. An overlooked yet crucial aspect of COPD management. Avoid drinking caffeine too late in the evening and maintain a bedtime routine so that it’s easier to get to sleep at night. Try to avoid taking long naps so that you can maintain a more consistent sleep schedule.
Avoid Infections. With COPD, you’re at higher risk of developing lung infections, particularly pneumonia. Make sure to wash your hands and avoid sick people wherever possible. This includes making sure that you, as well as the people at your house. have had their flu shots.
Know your body and the disease
Knowing your body is essential for COPD management. Knowing the causes of COPD, starting treatments early, maintaining your treatment regimen, and employing preventative measures will help you manage your COPD. COPD is not without its complications, and is associated with higher risk of pneumonia, heart failure, lung cancer, diabetes, and dementia. The above recommendations will help you decrease your risk of developing these conditions. If you notice a pronounced shortness of breathe, irregular breathing and wheezing, unusual headaches, swelling, stomach pain, or have blue skin discoloration, you may be experiencing COPD exasperation. Call your doctor, nurse, or medical care professional on what steps to take and whether you need to go to the hospital. Additionally, maintain contact with your healthcare provider to remain informed about the disease.
COPD is the a debilitating disease. Let’s work together to stop COPD. To find upcoming events and to learn more about how you can get involved, visit the copdfoundation’s website at
For more information on hiring a private nurse , visit our wesbite at http://accessnursing.com/contact-us/
COPD Foundation. What is COPD? (n.d). http://www.copdfoundation.org/What-is-COPD/Understanding-COPD/What-is-COPD.aspx
Healthline. Recognizing Serious COPD Complications (September, 2016). http://www.healthline.com/health/copd/serious-complications#Overview1
Healthline. Recognizing When Your Parent Has COPD (February, 2012). http://www.healthline.com/health/copd/parent
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. What Is COPD? (July, 2013). http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/copd
National Jewish Health. COPD: Treatment (September, 2016). https://www.nationaljewish.org/conditions/copd-chronic-obstructive-pulmonary-disease/overview/treatment
WebMD. 10 Signs of a COPD Exacerbation (n.d). http://www.webmd.com/lung/10-signs-copd-exacerbation