If you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with COPD, knowing what it is and how to treat it will help you to manage your symptoms long into the future. In this post, we’ll be covering everything you need to know about COPD – what it is, how it’s caused, whether it’s curable, and, most importantly, how you can maintain a good quality of life.
What is COPD?
COPD stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which affects an estimated 16 million adults in the US. The name refers to a number of chronic lung diseases, the most common of these being emphysema and chronic bronchitis. We’ll cover more on these diseases below.
Emphysema occurs when the alveoli, or the tiny air sacs, at the very end of the air passages in the lungs become damaged beyond repair. This usually results from long-term exposure to harmful irritants, like gases, chemicals and cigarette smoke. If you have emphysema, your symptoms may include chest pain, a persistent cough, difficulty breathing and increased phlegm production.
Chronic bronchitis is chronic inflammation of the bronchial tubes, which transport air into our alveoli. If you have chronic bronchitis, you most likely suffer from a persistent cough with mucus and shortness of breath. You’re more likely to get chronic bronchitis if you’ve had long-term exposure to irritants that lead to lung damage over time.
At the moment, COPD isn’t curable, but there are plenty of treatments you can use to make sure you have the best quality of life. Some of the more popular treatments include:
- Using an inhaler
Inhalers are portable devices that can be used to orally deliver medication straight to your lungs. They’re handy to have on you at all times when you have COPD, and should help to provide relief from shortness of breath if you’re having a flare-up. Your inhaler may contain bronchodilators, which open up the airways, allowing you to breathe more clearly, or steroids, which soothe inflammation and swelling.
- Taking portable oxygen
For many people with COPD, portable oxygen machines are essential for providing a better quality of life. You can use an oxygen device throughout the day, or when you need it most, such as during exercise or sleep. They work by measuring the amount of oxygen to safely deliver to your lungs to help your lungs to absorb enough of the gas, which can improve symptoms of COPD. Visit www.sensoronics.com for more information on oxygen for COPD.
If you meet the criteria for surgery, you may be offered this option when medication and other forms of treatment do not prove successful in managing your symptoms. Surgery is a big decision, especially if you’re offered a lung transplant. However, it can prove incredibly helpful in improving quality of life when it’s carried out successfully. Your doctor will be able to talk you through the pros and cons of surgery if they think you may require it.
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