Living with COPD
Thu, Jul 7th, 2022
Cardiopulmonary Disease (COPD) is defined as a condition involving constriction of the airways and difficulty or discomfort in breathing. Common causes of COPD include:
- Smoking (causes 9 out of every 10 cases)
- Exposure to secondhand smoke
- Air pollution
- Exposure to chemicals or fumes
Smoking causes damage to the lungs and airways. COPD is preventable.
Types of COPD
There are two main types of COPD:
Chronic Bronchitis: This is when the airways are inflamed and produce mucus. This type is defined by a persistent cough that produces mucus most days for at least 3 months in a year for 2 consecutive years.
Emphysema: This is when the air sacs in the lungs are destroyed. This type is defined by shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, and wheezing.
Symptoms of COPD
Common symptoms of COPD include:
- Shortness of breath with exertion
- Chest tightness
- Coughing up mucus
COPD gets worse over time so it is considered a progressive disease. There is no cure for COPD but there are treatments available to improve symptoms and slow disease progression. If you have been diagnosed with COPD quitting smoking is important. Avoid secondhand smoke, air pollution, chemicals, and chemical fumes.
Your doctor will work with you to provide the treatment plan that is best for you.
Living with COPD
Living with COPD can be challenging, but there are ways to make everyday tasks easier. Energy conservation techniques can help you conserve your energy and make tasks less strenuous. The right equipment can also make a difference.
For example, using a reacher to grab items off the floor or using a long-handled shoehorn to put on your shoes can help you avoid bending over which can be difficult for those with COPD. If you feel weak or have decreased balance a rollator, scooter or power chair may be what you need depending on the severity of your condition.
Replacing your current shower with and accessible shower will eliminate the need to step in as there is no ledge. You could also simply roll in with a roll in shower chair.
If you have or are living with someone who has COPD there are physical challenges but there are also things like anxiety and depression that should be addressed as well. Many people with COPD, at times, feel sadness, worry and fear that often goes unrecognized and untreated.
There are also many helpful COPD resources available online and support groups. These resources can provide additional information and support.
The American Lung Association has a hotline that you can call 1-800-586-4872 (and press 2).
It is staffed with licensed registered nurses, respiratory therapists and certified tobacco treatment specialists. In addition, there is bilingual Spanish-speaking staff along with a live language interpretation service for over 250 languages. TTY for hearing impaired: 1-800-501-1068.
Hotline hours are:
Monday-Friday 7 am - 9 pm (CT)
Weekends 9 am - 5 pm
*After hours leave a message and they will respond the next business day.
Remember, you are not alone in this journey. There are people who care about you and want to help you manage your COPD. Seek out social support, lean on your friends and family, and find a COPD support group near you. With the right information and support, you can live a full life despite your COPD diagnosis.
Bell House Medical has so many different types of devices and equipment to help reduce the physical stress and conserve energy involved with performing everyday tasks. Give us a call and we can even come to your home to access what we can do to make your life easier.
source: American Lung Association