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If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the whole family may be breathing uneasily because you don’t know what to expect in terms of prognosis. The two most common forms of COPD are chronic bronchitis, in which the airways leading to the lungs become inflamed and partially blocked with excess mucus, and emphysema, in which the air sacs in the lungs are damaged and trap air. As a result, less air gets into the lungs, which can lead to difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, weakness, exhaustion, weight loss, and bluish lips and skin. You also may get frequent colds or chest infections. Many people with COPD have a combination of chronic bronchitis and emphysema, and some may also have asthma.
COPD cannot be cured but it can be managed, especially if treatment is started before the disease reaches an advanced state. Your doctor and the team at VNSNY can help you improve your symptoms, slow the disease’s damage to your lungs, and lead a more active life. This usually involves:
Combining these approaches is likely to give you much better results than if you were to rely on one exclusively, especially since COPD is a progressive, long-term disease.
By following your doctor’s treatment regimen, you can manage your symptoms, slow the disease’s progression, prevent complications (such as respiratory infections, malnutrition, and depression), and enhance the quality of your life and health.
The goal: To feel and function at your best, given your condition. Once your treatment is launched, your doctor will want to see you regularly to find out how well the medications you’re taking and the lifestyle modifications you’ve made are relieving your breathing troubles. To that end, your doctor will likely measure how well your lungs are functioning through spirometry, a simple breathing test that gauges how much air a person’s lungs can hold and the speed of inhalations and exhalations; your doctor also may order a chest X-ray or CT scan, if symptoms worsen.
To learn more about how the Visiting Nurse Service of New York can help you manage pulmonary disease, such as COPD, click here.