COPD — or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease — is a lifelong respiratory illness that may involve characteristics of chronic bronchitis or emphysema or both. Among other serious symptoms, the condition makes it difficult to breathe and can be fatal. In fact, it is the third most common cause of death in the United States. While it cannot be cured, the progression of the disease can be slowed with treatment. Specializing in cardiac care management, Lifetime Care — a leading home health care provider in Rochester, New York — highlights a few important things to know about COPD and how to care for it.
What Causes It?
COPD typically develops among people who have a history of smoking. However, air pollution and working in industrial environments are also known risk factors. Over time, breathing in these chemicals can damage the airways in lungs, causing them to become thicker. As airways become inflamed, it becomes harder for a person to inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide.
What Are the Symptoms?
It’s not always easy to pinpoint COPD, as many people associate its symptoms with aging or confuse them with another respiratory condition. In general, the disease makes it hard to breathe — particularly when a person is active. Many also experience a persistent cough, high mucus production, respiratory infections, and wheezing. The lack of oxygen can also lead to fatigue, as well as turn lips and fingernails blue.
How Can It Be Treated?
Treatment options for COPD will depend on a person’s individual symptoms and the severity of the disease. Many patients use inhaler medications — including bronchodilators and steroids — to relax airway muscles and reduce inflammation. In more moderate cases, individuals may inhale oxygen through nasal tubes or masks. Lung surgery is another potential option, but it’s generally reserved for severe cases.
Doctors often recommend a variety of lifestyle changes to help minimize symptoms and strengthen lungs. For example, a person may be urged to stop smoking, change their diet, or adopt low-impact exercises that help strengthen lungs.
How Can a Home Health Care Provider Help With Treatment?
When COPD flares up, it can be difficult for a person to manage their medication and activity needs on their own. Nurse specialists and specially trained RNs possess the medical training necessary to check on individuals on a regular basis to ensure they are taking medications and caring for symptoms. They can also monitor the progression of symptoms and communicate with doctors to make adjustments to your cardiac care. Lifetime Care's cardiac care program includes a team of professionals consisting of nurses, rehabilitation specialists, social workers and physicians who can help you manage COPD and other cardiac conditions.
If you or a loved one are struggling with COPD, finding reliable, friendly, and affordable care can be challenging. Fortunately, Rochester, New York residents can find the dependable support they need through Lifetime Care. Specializing in personalized home care since 1960, this nonprofit organization understands how to tend to health needs with compassion and respect. Visit them online to learn more about the variety of services they offer. To find out how you can arrange a caregiver in the Rochester or Finger Lakes regions, call this home health care provider at (585) 214-1000 today.