The clear and simple answer is that there is currently no cure for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). That being said, there is evidence that shows early diagnosis, combined with disease management programs, can reduce the impact of COPD and slow the disease from progressing into a more severe state.
If you are struggling with accomplishing activities you used to do with ease by becoming short of breath, experiencing chest tightness or low energy, or getting frequent respiratory infections, being diagnosed with COPD can be a blessing in disguise.
In the United States 12.7 million adults are estimated to have COPD, but close to 30 million are living with impaired lung function, suggesting that many more people have COPD but aren’t being diagnosed.
This means that about half of the people with COPD are missing out on valuable treatments that will slow the progression of their disease and improve their over-all quality of life.
This is why it is so important to check with your doctor and get tested if you are experiencing:
- A nagging cough
- Decreased ability to exercise
- Shortness of breath
- Frequent respiratory infections
New research displays that many doctors may miss the early signs of COPD in up to 85 percent of cases.
That being said, there are multiple ways to be tested for COPD, and you might suggest to your doctor that you would like to be tested for COPD just to be sure that you do, or do not have it.
A spirometry test will test your Lung function and measure the amount of air you can inhale and exhale, and will determine whether your lungs deliver enough oxygen to your blood.
A chest X-ray can show whether or not you have emphysema, which is one of the main causes of COPD. An X-ray can also rule out other lung problems or heart failure.
A CT scan of your lungs can help detect emphysema and lung cancer. It is the test administrated to determine if you would benefit from surgery for COPD.
An arterial blood gas analysis measures how well your lungs bring oxygen into your blood and remove carbon dioxide.
Basic steps toward slowing disease progression
After getting one or multiple tests, and once you realize why you are experiencing symptoms, there are multiple ways to improve your quality of life, slow disease progression, reduce mortality and keep you out of hospital.
There are many people just like you, who have been diagnosed with COPD who found that after they knew the reason behind their breathing complications they were able to adjust their lifestyles, and actually changed their lives in a positive way!
In order to change your COPD diagnosis from a "death sentence" into a blessing to start anew, here are the basic steps you must take in order to slow the progression of your COPD.
One of the most important aspects and the easiest habit it form, is staying healthy in aspects of your life like diet, and weight. You can begin to research the correct food that you need to supplement you breathing issues and lung deterioration. You would be surprised how a healthy gut can influence your mood and your energy levels!
Make sure that all of you vaccinations are up-to-date and that you always get the fly vaccine every year in order to to protect yourself from influenza and pneumonia. These sickness can induce flare-ups, meaning more sever symptoms and extreme trouble breathing, which will inevitably lead to more hospitalization in the future.
It is also important that you understand and are always learning about COPD education. You should know all of the steps you must take in the case of an emergency, you should know how and when to take you medication, and you should know your treatment plan through and through.
Most important steps towards slowing COPD progression
The following steps are more challenging and require more planning and effort, however this section about slowing your COPD disease progression is the most vital.
Quitting smoking is the utmost important action you must take to reduce the rate at which your lungs are deteriorating. If you have COPD and continue to smoke year will be taken off of your life expectancy. However, if you are a life-long smoker, and quit smoking after being diagnosed with COPD, the rate at which your COPD progresses into more severe stages will decline.
For some folks, exercise has never been a high priority. But if you have COPD, it is crucial for your health and longevity, that you start taking steps towards a more active lifestyle.
This does not mean you should start training for a marathon, instead try walking around your house more often, then try climbing the stairs multiple times a day, and before you know it your tolerance for exercising more regularly will begin to grow.
This last step is critical for people who need extra oxygen, and need to begin on supplemental oxygen therapy. so that you can breathe easier and you can stay more active. Even if you don’t need oxygen therapy now, you may need it later if your COPD does progress into a more severe stage.
There are a few options you have when it comes to choosing the method in which you receive supplemental oxygen. The overwhelming consensuses is that portable oxygen concentrators (POC) are the most innovative and hassle-free pieces of equipment for oxygen therapy available.
POCs are lightweight ranging from 4-8 pounds depending on the model. They are battery powered, and depending on the flow setting and battery module capacity can last up to 16 hours.
POC are also safe, and do not create an oxygen rich environment like an oxygen tank does, this means you can safely travel by plane, car, boat with ease. The POC brings in surrounding air, purifies and concentrates the air into medical grade oxygen.
COPD is very serious chronic illness and should not be taken lightly
COPD is a very serious respiratory disease, and because it cannot be cured yet, it is crucial to take all of the suggestions within this article and apply it to your lifestyle everyday if you can.
If you are diagnosis with any stage of COPD, you need to set up a strict treatment plan where so that you are able to successfully slow down the disease progression, and minimize lung deterioration.
By following all of theses disease management tesuniqes, you will be able to continue living a rather normal if not more active lifestyle than before your diagnosis.
If you struggle with physical activity, one of the best ways to help you get into the habit of exercising is with the help of a portable oxygen concentrators. An Inogen brand portable oxygen concentrator, Caire Freestyle Comfort portable oxygen concentrator, or the Respironics SimplyGo Portable Oxygen Concentrator will help you to exercise with less shortness of breath, travel freely and independently, and never have to worry about up-keeping costs associated with refilling any oxygen canisters.
If you are not at the stage where you need supplemental oxygen therapy, be sure to take all of these steps to avoid progressing to that stage of COPD later in life.