Affinity Health Plan

  • Ways to Breathe Better with COPD

    February 04, 2015




    Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a progressive lung disease that makes breathing hard. About 24 million people in the U.S. have this disease, as stated by the COPD Foundation. Emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and poorly controlled severe asthma fall under the medical term COPD. Progressive means that disease will slowly get worse.

    "Smoking is by far the leading cause of COPD," said Dr. Stanley Goldstein, an allergist and pulmonary specialist. Being exposed to second-hand smoke is another major cause. "Mostly if a child grows up in a household where there is smoke," he said.

    Other causes are:

    • Breathing air pollution over time
    • Fumes from chemicals
    • Dust from work environments (an example is coal dust)
    • Genetics, which means having it in your family background

    COPD is now the third leading cause of death In the U.S., after heart disease and cancer, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Also, the American Lung Association says that women have higher rates of COPD and higher death rates due to it. "It's because women have caught up to men in smoking," Dr. Goldstein said. The ALA adds that many women are misdiagnosed with asthma.  In both sexes, of those who have the disease about half of the people don't know they have it, says the COPD Foundation. One reason is because the signs start out mild, and are not easy to spot.

    The signs include:

    • Coughing
    • Shortness of breath
    • Being tired
    • Having phlegm when coughing
    • Wheezing when breathing
    • Many chest colds

    COPD often leads to other illnesses that also must be treated. They include depression, heart problems, bone loss and loss in muscle tone.

    No cure exists for COPD.  However, by being proactive and taking charge of the situation, you'll have a better chance to live a long life. "Medicine has advanced in slowing the progression of this illness," Dr. Goldstein said. Through the use of anti-inflammatory drugs, swelling in the airways of the lungs is reduced, cites American Thoracic Society, which deals with chest and throat problems. Here are some measures that a person with COPD can take:

    Get screened. Do it before a major loss of lung function occurs, especially if you smoke.

    Stop smoking. "Continued smoking causes a greater loss of lung function," Dr. Goldstein pointed out. If a person stops early enough, then the healthy part of their lungs could take them through a normal life span. He said that even with major loss of lung function a person will live much longer and more comfortably by quitting. Also, stay away from second-hand smoke. It is as bad as smoking.

    Fill all prescriptions right away, and take the medicine as prescribed. Medications can increase and maintain lung function. These also will decrease flare ups from COPD. It is very important to fill all prescriptions right after a hospital stay. Severe exacerbation is the term used by doctors to describe either a hospital stay or an ER visit for COPD. The more exacerbations, the worse the lung function becomes.

    Talk to your doctor. "Studies have found that a significant number of people don't even tell their primary care doctor that their symptoms are worsening. They sort of work their way through it," Dr. Goldstein said. "It is very important your health care provider know, so that it either can be treated or medications can be changed," he added.

    Stay physically active. "Physical activity will increase your tolerance, decrease shortness of breath and help to put off depression," Dr. Goldstein explained. Pulmonary rehabilitation is a special exercise program with a lung therapist to help build lung function and strength. It can show a person how to exercise, teach breathing techniques, how to build muscle tone and strength, and give support and counseling. "Exercise also fights depression, which is very important for a person with COPD," he said.

    Get rest. Sleep, long restful hours of sleep, is difficult for COPD sufferers. It is common for a COPD sufferer to be awakened by coughing, breathing difficulties, chest pain, and frequent nighttime urination. Many sufferers' report sleeplessness and tiredness. The National Sleep Foundation recommends discussing treatment options with your doctor, along with the use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), a device that greatly assists with nighttime breathing.

    Don't use irritants. Aerosol sprays and cleaning chemicals can inflame the airways. Do not use hair sprays. Also, when cleaning, Dr. Goldstein suggests using just a damp cloth to wipe away dust.

    Other measures can improve the life span of a COPD sufferer. Get a flu shot and a pneumococcal vaccine. Stay away from people with respiratory infections. Don't go out on day when the pollution is bad or on days when it is freezing. The cold air can cause labored breathing in a person with COPD. Also, it is good to have goals and a plan of action

    In the end, taking care of COPD, "is a team effort between patient, doctors, nurses and pharmacist," said Dr. Goldstein. But the person with COPD has to be proactive. Take your meds; keep your doctor informed. The upshot will be that you can save your breath.

    For more from Dr. Goldstein, view our 2 part video series: Types of Asthma and Treatments for Asthma.

    Dr. Stanley Goldstein is board certified in adult and pediatric allergy, asthma and immunology, and pediatric pulmonology. In practice for 39 years, he received his medical degree from New York Medical College. Dr. Goldstein has a practice in Rockville Center, Long Island, and is affiliated with Long Island Jewish Medical Center and Mercy Medical Center.

    Comments (2)

    henry shayna on 11/07/2015
    HELLO How can I explain this to the world that there is a man who can cure COPD, I was diagnosed for the past 3years I have being into COPD drug since then,so I decide to look for help in the internet then I found this woman post write about this great man Dr successful, telling people about him that this man have cured to COPD I don’t believe that because all I have in mind is COPD had no cure, thank god for my life today am COPD negative through the power of Dr successful, I contacted this man for help because who write about him drop an email of the man I pick the email and emailed him for the cure this man told me what to do about the cure well am from Australia this man cast a curing spell on me and he told me that he will call me after the cure is done truly he did I was cured for 24hurs spell what a wonderful man this Dr successful, if you need his cured just email him now on thank you DR i will never stop shearing you testimony
    henry shayna on 11/26/2015
    Healing from COPD, i never taught dr.abegbu who could ever get my COPD cured with his healing herbal cures, i have tried almost everything but i couldn't find any solution on my disease, despite all these happening to me, i always spend a lot to buy a COPD drugs from hospital and taking some several medications but no relieve, until one day i was just browsing on the internet when i come across a great post of ! Williams Fran-ca who truly said that she was been diagnose with COPD and was healed that very week through the help of these great powerful healing doctor, sometime i really wonder why people called him Baba ABEGBU i never knew it was all because of the great and perfect work that he has been doing that is causing all this. so i quickly contacted him, and he ask me some few questions and he said a thing i will never forget that anyone who contacted him, is always getting his or her healing after take the herbs cure in a week so i was amazed all the time i heard that from him, so i did all things only to see that at the very day which he said i will be healed, all the strength that has left me before rush back and i became very strong and healthy, this disease almost kills my life all because of me, so i rush to hospital for the final test. So the disease and the doctor said i am COPD negative, i am very amazed and happy about the healing DR.ABEGBU gave to me from the ancient part of Africa, you can email him now for your own healing too at DR.ABEGBUHEALER@GMAIL.COM or
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