Simply put, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, known as COPD, steals your breath. Worse yet, it is a progressive disease that develops over time and has no cure.
Nearly 15 million adults have been diagnosed with COPD and estimates indicate there may be another 12 million people with the disease who remain undiagnosed. Additionally,
The disease includes two lung problems, chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Both of these conditions cause the lungs to lose their elasticity and as a result, their ability to function correctly.
COPD can make walking a few steps feel like running a marathon. Stairs become nearly impossible to climb and wearing an oxygen tube quickly becomes a way of life. Anyone suffering with COPD struggles to take care of the activities of daily life. For those who are accustomed to living an active life, COPD is tantamount to being held prisoner.
November is COPD Awareness Month and a good opportunity to understand how you might help someone coping with this breathless disease.
Managing COPD requires a health care team:
Unique to COPD is something called “exacerbations.” This is when the disease flares up, usually due to a viral or bacterial lung infection. It happens suddenly, signalled by the presence of COPD symptoms that are much worse than usual. Exacerbations can last days or weeks, require antibiotics, other oral medications, and sometimes hospitalization. When it becomes clear that the patient is experiencing an exacerbation, call the health care provider immediately.
There are ways to avoid the triggers that can cause an exacerbation: