In addition to lung cancer and asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is among the most common chronic respiratory diseases, affecting some 16 million Americans—with women 37% more likely to get it.
There is no known cure for COPD, but there are effective treatments, so it’s important to be armed with all the knowledge possible when receiving a diagnosis. Beth Abraham Center has five things you need to know (or ask your doctor about).
- How Is it Diagnosed?
It’s not unusual for COPD to be mistakenly diagnosed, especially in smokers who have a chronic cough or shortness of breath. Lung function tests are generally the best indicator to diagnose COPD.
- Is it Related to Smoking?
Up to 75% of people who have COPD either smoked at the time of diagnosis or regularly smoked previously. Even if you are diagnosed, it’s still beneficial to quit smoking because quitting will help slow the progression of the disease. Your doctor can help you develop a plan to kick the smoking habit.
- Is a Lung Cancer Screening Necessary?
If you’re a smoker, you’re at risk for lung cancer, so ask your doctor if you should be screened. It’s recommended to have a yearly screening if you’re between 55 and 80 and have a history of heavy smoking (a pack a day for 30 years or equivalent use, such as two packs a day for 15 years).
- Ask to Be Shown How to Take Medication
You’ll want to be taught how to use a medication called bronchodilators that make it easier for you to breathe. These medicines are expensive and it’s possible to not use them properly to get the full effect, so make sure you have it down.
- Ways to Strengthen Your Breathing
Besides quitting smoking and taking medication, exercising is the best way to improve your lung function by improving the way oxygen is delivered to your muscles, reducing the stress placed on your lungs.
To learn more about Beth Abraham Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing and all of the services they offer, visit https://beth-abraham-center.facilities.centershealthcare.org/.