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Living a full life with COPD

Living with a long-term lung condition such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is not without its challenges, but with good therapy patients can still live an active lifestyle. Here you will find everything you need to know about COPD, how it affects the human body and what recommended treatments are available. If you, a friend, family member, or patient is suffering from this condition, this is the place to learn more about how you can get it under control and live a positive life.

What is COPD?

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD, is a term used to describe a group of lung conditions. Patients with COPD find it difficult to empty air out of their lungs due to narrowed airways. Two of the most common conditions are bronchitis and emphysema. It should be noted that COPD is often confused with asthma, but is a separate condition.

What are the tell-tale signs of COPD?

Most patients suffer from a combination of the following symptoms. They experience them all the time, or appear worse when they are ill with an infection. Being in an environment with poor air quality can also set-off these symptoms and cause a ‘flare-up’:

  • Shortness of breath during/after very light physical effort, such as walking
  • Prolonged cough over a long time (multiple weeks/months)
  • Wheezing while breathing in or out, particularly in cold weather
  • Phlegm in the throat/chest produced more than usual
  • Loss of appetite, weight (due to the above) and/or swollen ankles

COPD in numbers

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How should COPD be diagnosed?

It is important that COPD is diagnosed properly by a medical professional to avoid confusion with less severe conditions, such as asthma. Healthcare providers looking for signs of COPD may conduct a progressive set of tests, including:

  • Spirometry - a measure of lung capacity (most reliable method)
  • Chest x-ray - radiation analysis of soft body issue
  • Blood test - general assessment of bodily health
  • BMI calculation - body mass measurement

Is COPD a big problem?

Yes, it is a chronic condition, but treatments are available to ensure that patients can maintain a healthy and somewhat active lifestyle. COPD affects more than 65 million people worldwide and is directly responsible for around three million deaths per year. The average five-year life expectancy ranges from 40 - 70 % - meaning that 40 - 70 out of every 100 people with COPD will survive longer than five years.

The main issues for patients with COPD are:

  • Vulnerable to colds, flu and pneumonia
  • Risk of developing heart disease
  • Higher risk of lung cancer
  • Susceptible to respiratory failure

How is COPD caused?

COPD is caused by long term lung damage as a result of breathing in harmful, airborne substances. This can include the inhalation of tobacco smoke, air pollution or other forms of toxic smoke. Prolonged exposure to chemicals, fumes and smoke in work environments can also cause COPD.

Only very rare genetic conditions can cause COPD, but if a parent has suffered from chest problems you are more at risk. However, you are most likely to develop COPD if you are a smoker, had a lung condition as a child and currently aged 35 years or older.

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How can COPD be professionally treated?

Given that COPD affects so many people worldwide, science and technology has rapidly moved on to help patients manage their condition and overall lifestyle.
A whole range of healthcare professional advice and therapy can be sought, including expert physiotherapists, dieticians, occupational therapists, counsellors/talking therapists and even smoking cessation advisors.

What should patients with COPD do?

Patients suffering from COPD can make the biggest difference to their health and lifestyle by closely and consistently adhering to professional healthcare advice and therapy.
The basis of COPD treatment is to quit smoking. This is the only way to prevent further worsening of the disease and to maintain the ability to breathe.

Existing lung damage can no longer be repaired, so the goal of treatment is to relieve shortness of breath and coughing. In essence, helping maintain adequate breathing for as long as possible so that patients can perform everyday activities and lead a 'normal' lifestyle.

A doctor may prescribe medication, usually in an inhaler, to help open the patient's airways. They may recommend long-acting medicines that can be taken every day as well as short-acting medicines that are used when needed, such as before an activity.
In the event of an outbreak, other drugs are usually given in tablet form and hospital treatment may also be required. In more serious instances, oxygen therapy is required to manage COPD cases.

What is oxygen therapy?

Supplemental oxygen therapy increases the amount of oxygen the lungs receive and deliver to the bloodstream. In the last few decades, great strides have been made to manufacture devices that patients with COPD can use, at home or on the move, to deliver this extra oxygen support.

So called Portable Oxygen Concentrators (POCs) are prescribed by medical professionals to patients with severe COPD. They come in two main forms - 'Pulse only' or 'Pulse and Continuous' - which describes how they deliver oxygen to the patient. Importantly, both types are lightweight, portable and operate at low noise volumes which makes it easier and more convenient for the patient to live life to the fullest.

GCE Healthcare manufactures two of the leading POCs on the market, called Zen-O™ and Zen-O lite™. Each device can be enabled with mobile/cellular connectivity which means that home oxygen providers can keep a close eye on the patient’s oxygen therapy, via the device. 

For those looking to maintain an active lifestyle and complete peace of mind, a POC device from GCE Healthcare is an optimal solution. 

Click here for more information about Zen-O

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Box 21044
200 21 Malmö
SWEDEN

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