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What is COPD?

By Marius Butas, 5:46 pm on

COPD, also known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is a combination of emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Seniors with COPD will often suffer from several breathing problems, such as shortness-of-breath, a cough that does not seem to go away and they may experience periods of wheezing. Symptoms of COPD also tend to get worse with extremes in temperature.

Because more than 23 million American have evidence of impaired lung function that often indicates an under diagnosis of COPD, Home Care Assistance of Mesa thought it was important to share information about the condition and what seniors and their families can do to ensure proper treatment.

Testing and Diagnosis

If the senior or their family notices any of the previously mentioned symptoms, it is a good idea to get checked out. There are a few tests that the doctor will perform including chest x-rays and lung functioning tests, which can help rule out other conditions. There are no specific tests that can determine if the senior has COPD, rather the diagnosis is based on symptoms, health history, a current physical and results from the conducted tests.

Understanding the Diagnosis

COPD is a progressive condition that advances and becomes worse through stages. While there is no cure, COPD can be managed to provide a higher level of comfort to the patient. Seniors may be prescribed medication via pills or an inhaler to decrease inflammation to the lungs and the doctor will often recommend a pulmonologist, a physician that specializes in diseases and disorders involving the lungs. The goal of the treatment is to slow down the disease process and avoid what is referred to as exacerbation, which is when symptoms act up and become worse.

Managing Symptoms

The family and the senior are often worried about the symptoms associated with COPD as breathing problems can be frightening. In addition to prescribing medications, the doctor will often recommend avoiding known irritants and extreme hot or cold temperatures. Pursed-lipped breathing and sitting in the tri-pod position (leaning forward on a table or other hard surface on the elbows), can also help when the senior is having problems breathing. Families can also seek the help of professional Mesa caregivers to assist with activities of daily living that may have become difficult or dangerous to complete. This will ensure safety and maximize comfort on an around the clock basis.

To learn more about how an hourly or live-in caregiver in Mesa can help you or an aging parent or loved one, contact us today at (480) 699-4899. Our devoted Care Managers are available 24/7 and will be more than happy to answer any of your home care questions.