Things to know if you have COPD
COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is a serious lung disease that affects more than 15 million Americans and is the third leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
COPD usually causes long-term damage to the airways inside the lungs, which makes it difficult to breathe. Common COPD symptoms include wheezing, cough, chest tightness, and shortness of breath — and they may vary from day to day. COPD is a chronic and progressive condition, so it will never go away completely, and symptoms may worsen over time. However, you can slow down the progression of COPD by quitting smoking and living a healthier lifestyle.
In addition, COPD can lead to emergency room visits and overnight hospital stays. These hospital visits for people with COPD are often the result of what is called a flare-up. Also known as an “exacerbation,” flare-ups are a sudden worsening of COPD symptoms, such as uncontrollable coughing, increased mucus production, extreme fatigue and an urgent shortness of breath.
But, according to Dr. Sanjay Sethi, professor and chief of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at the University of Buffalo, there is hope for people with COPD.
“COPD can be treated with the help of your doctor,” said Dr. Sethi. “There are several different steps that can be taken to treat COPD, and since each person is different, it’s important to be open and honest with your doctor because they need all the facts to make the right treatment decisions for you. There are a variety of treatment options available to help you breathe better.”
When treating COPD, it’s important to treat all elements of the disease. Know the major components of COPD for you and your doctor to consider:
* Better breathing: You can help yourself by doing physical and breathing exercises, making sure your home is clean and free from dust, and quitting habits that are destructive to the lungs, such as smoking. Medication can also help you breathe more easily by opening up your airways.
* Reducing flare-ups: Take the time to identify your triggers and eliminate them — this can help reduce the frequency of your flare-ups. Having one flare-up can lead to another, but forming an action plan and taking these steps can help reduce their frequency, which lowers the chance of hospitalization.
To learn more about COPD, including a common treatment option, visit this website. People with COPD should talk to their healthcare provider to explore which treatment options work best for them and their lifestyle, and create a COPD action plan.