Being diagnosed with COPD can be surprising to people who went years or all their lives without any sort of health issue. It’s even worse when people feel like it’s their own fault, since 90% of COPD cases are caused by smoking tobacco. Sometimes, however, you can bring back some of your lung function, even after being diagnosed with this lung disease.
Maybe lately you’ve been experiencing some trouble breathing, and you’re not sure why. You may have gotten a chest cold that you never seemed to fully recover from. These are both serious reasons for concern, and you shouldn’t ignore them. Once you start having trouble breathing, you need to see your doctor as soon as possible. If you’ve been smoking for many years, it could be a sign of a lung disease like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
If you are diagnosed with this disease after all the testing has been done and your doctor has come to a conclusion (chest x-rays, spirometry and arterial blood gas test), the story is far from over. Now you and your doctor have to decide on the best way to treat you. You need to feel free to ask questions, but once you’ve been diagnosed with something like COPD, you might find it hard to concentrate on what you need to do next. Here are some questions that are important to ask your doctor after being diagnosed with COPD and about oxygen therapy.
Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) isn’t as harmful to most adults as it is to children, the elderly to people who have chronic lung diseases like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). To everyone else, it just comes on like a regular cold virus, with a cough, runny nose, fever, earache and a mild sore throat. They just need to rest and drink plenty of fluids and they should feel better in about a week or less.
Babies, small children, the elderly and people with chronic lung conditions will be hit much harder and will likely turn into pneumonia. It’s always a good idea to go straight to the doctor if you or someone in one of these groups is showing signs of a cold like this, just to play it safe. In someone with asthma or COPD, this can be very dangerous, just because it will bring on an asthma attack or an exacerbation. COPD exacerbations make COPD worse and decrease lung function even more.
Usually a patient who is trying to treat sleep apnea will be prescribed a CPAP machine to use while they are sleeping. This is usually effective, and many people need some time to adjust to using it, as it can be disruptive and uncomfortable at first. CPAP machines are the first and so far, best line of treatment for people who don’t want their obstructive sleep apnea to have an effect on them during the day.
The results of a new study were presented on June 5th at “Sleep 2013”, 27th Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies. The study was conducted on a small electrical device that is implanted in the mouth, which sends out tiny electrical impulses to the main nerve of the tongue, called the hypoglossal nerve. The electrical impulses are meant to tone the muscle of the throat, so that the throat doesn’t close up during sleep, which will also prevent snoring.
The results of a recent study published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal, suggests that bronchodilators may increase the risk of heart attacks in elderly patients who take the drug to treat COPD. In Ontario, Canada, 200,000 elderly people taking bronchodilators volunteered in the study. A group out of this number were taking the bronchodilator medication, while there was a control group not taking any sort of bronchodilator. Out of the group taking the bronchodilator, 28% of them had a cardiovascular event over the course of the 6 year study.
It was concluded that patients who are just starting to take a bronchodilator need to be monitored closely for the first few months after being introduced to the new drug treatment. This is especially true for people over the age of 60, who generally have weaker hearts and those who have never before taken a bronchodilator.
A new health report shows that women are now 37% more likely to develop COPD, or die from smoking-related illnesses than their male counterparts. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD, was more prevalent among men not that long ago, but new statistics show that more and more women have picked up the habit of smoking, but even so, men are still smoking a little more than women on the whole.
COPD (which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis), is caused mainly by smoking – 90% of COPD cases caused by smoking, while the other 10% is caused by air pollution and a very rare genetic condition known as alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency. Even though on the average, men have been smoking for a longer amount of time and tend to smoke a little more than women, women are developing COPD and other smoking complications at a higher rate. Experts have a few suggestions for why this is:
These aren’t the type of steroids that cheating athletes or body builders take – they are known as corticosteroids and if you have a chronic lung disease like Asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), then you may have been prescribed one of these drugs. These come in several different forms, but to treat lung inflammation, they are taken orally or as a powder or spray taken with an inhaler.
These are taken as an anti-inflammatory, and are also used to treat arthritis and allergies. One steroid known as prednisone is used to keep inflammation down in COPD, and the drug is prescribed on a semi long term basis to help prevent exacerbations. Exacerbations are the flare-ups that occur in those with COPD, and they also lead to the general worsening of the disease. Experts are finding out that taking high doses of prednisone and other corticosteroids, even for short periods of time, increase the risk of diabetes.
If you’ve ever had a hard time breathing after eating a big meal, with or without COPD, you can see how it can affect the way you breath. With COPD, however, you can be in even more trouble if you eat more than you should in one sitting.
COPD causes the lungs to swell up to a few sizes bigger than a pair of healthy lungs. This is because your lungs are trying to expand and compensate for the fact they can’t bring in as much oxygen as before. The fact that your lungs are larger, makes it easier to feel as if you’ve eaten too much, and is another reason why people who have COPD feel full faster than people who don’t have COPD. Your lungs will push down against your diaphragm, which then pushes against your stomach. Not only do you feel uncomfortable, but you will also decrease your ability to take a breath.
People in most workplaces are discouraged from wearing perfumes, since many people have different degrees of sensitivity to fragrances, or certain types of colognes. For some people, all they get is a headache when they smell a certain type of fragrance. Others might only be sensitive to fragrances or a certain fragrance if it comes in contact with their skin, such as in the cases of strong scents in laundry detergent, lotions, etc.
For some people with sensitivity sinuses and respiratory systems, strong perfumes, colognes and other fragrances can be dangerous. You can also become intolerant to a fragrances as you get older, or after you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic lung disease, such as COPD.
Some of the more dangerous fragrance substances found in many products are some organic fragrances, formaldehyde and benzene, which have been known to not only cause lung exacerbations, but also neurological damage and cancer. Benzene, for example, has been found in nail polishes.
If you want to avoid exacerbations and keep a generally high quality of life with COPD, there are some things you will need to avoid.
Skipping doses of medication. You should use all of your medication as prescribed by your doctor, even when you are “feeling fine”, or if you genuinely feel like you don’t need it. It’s likely that the reason you feel as if you don’t need it, is because you’ve been using it properly up until now. This goes for oxygen therapy as well, since it is considered a medication.
Not eating enough, or eating unhealthy foods. Since your lungs have to work harder to inspire oxygen, you are burning 10 times more calories while you breathe. Also, people with COPD will often feel too tired to eat, or they simply do not have an appetite. Take meal supplements and eat healthy foods high in protein, vitamins and minerals. Drink the recommended 8 glasses of water a day to help keep mucous thin and easy to expel.