What is COPD?
COPD stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and refers to progressive lung diseases, such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, refractory (non-reversible) asthma, and some forms of bronchiectasis.
Patients with COPD experience shortness of breath and have a limited exercise capacity. The disease significantly impacts quality of life and activities of daily life, which in turn can cause depression.
Should those with COPD be concerned about the flu or pneumonia?
Those diagnosed with COPD should get a flu shot every year and a pneumococcal (pneumonia) vaccination every five years until age 65. It’s also important to avoid contact with individuals – including grandchildren – who have a cold or flu.
That’s because if you do get a cold or flu, it can cause an exacerbation, or flare-up, of COPD, which might require hospitalization. Be mindful of hand washing. Pay attention to details that affect immune response: eat a healthy diet, maintain a healthy weight, get enough sleep. And of course, don’t smoke.
What about staying healthy in warmer weather?
Some people with COPD also have asthma, which can be triggered by seasonal allergens such as certain pollens. Changes in the environment, like heat and humidity, may also trigger an exacerbation. To avoid hospitalization, patients need to know how to recognize the start of a COPD flare-up and respond quickly by visiting their family doctor or pulmonologist.
To Find a Pulmonologists Near You Call
To Find an Pulmonologists Near You Call
New treatments for COPD
Recent research points to lung volume reduction as a treatment for advanced COPD. Lung volume reduction is done both surgically and non-surgically, depending on the patient’s condition. The goal being to keep the airways open and make breathing easier.
3 ways to lessen the effect of COPD
Quit Smoking. Smoking is the #1 cause of COPD and it’s something that individuals have control over. When a smoker quits, after a relatively short time, the rate of decline of their lung function going forward is about the same as a non-smoker.
Maintain a good oxygen level. Have it checked regularly by your healthcare provider so that you can take steps to keep it in a safe range.
3Exercise. There’s a natural tendency to avoid exercise since the lungs are impaired, and this leads to muscle deconditioning. However, exercise has many benefits: it improves mood, heart function, bone strength, and balance, making it less likely you will fall. There is no down side to exercise.
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Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor