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January 7, 2019 | Value-Based Care
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs. Although COPD is a chronic condition, it is treatable with proper management—and most people with COPD are able to achieve a high quality of life while controlling their symptoms.
The two primary conditions that contribute to COPD are emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Chronic bronchitis is caused by inflammation in the lining of the bronchial tubes, which carry the air in your lungs. Emphysema is a destruction of the lungs’ smallest air passages as a result of damaging exposure to cigarette smoke and other pollutants.
According to the American Lung Association, the leading causes of COPD include:
COPD can range in severity. However, many people can experience a high quality of life while living with COPD. It is essential to understand the changes you can make to maintain a healthier lifestyle while managing your disease. Here are some tips to manage COPD while staying active and enjoying your life.
Protect your lungs
COPD weakens your lungs, heightening their sensitivity that could result in “flare-ups.” Avoiding possible triggers as much as possible will help reduce these flare-ups. To protect your lungs:
Monitor air quality
Avoid dust and fumes as much as possible and stay indoors on days labeled as “bad air days.” You can avoid bad air by seeking out local air pollution forecasts in your area. Sources include your local radio and TV weather reports as well as the government site epa.gov/airnow.
Take your medication
A variety of medicines are used to treat COPD. However, there is no “best” medicine for everyone with COPD. Each person’s COPD is different, therefore your doctor will work with you to determine which medication best fits your needs.
Try breathing exercises
For those that live with COPD, it can feel like you are always trying to catch your breath. Deep-breathing exercises can help when you are experiencing difficulty breathing.
Unlike many diseases, COPD has clear causes and a clear path of prevention. The majority of cases are directly related to smoking cigarettes, so the best way to prevent COPD is to never smoke or if you smoke, stop smoking now. For those already diagnosed with COPD, there are ways to work with your doctor and create a treatment plan that allows you to enjoy a quality of life that you want.
“What Causes COPD?” American Lung Association.
“COPD.” Mayo Clinic.
“Managing COPD.” American Lung Association.
The Live Better Team
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.