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Coping With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

30 Sep 2016

What is COPD? Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a disease where breathing becomes difficult and worsen over time. Common signs and symptoms are: ● Frequent coughing with phlegmEasily tired during physical activities (e.g. climbing stairs, walking for a long distance) ● Increased effort to breathe (’hungry’ for air) As a progressive disease, changes may only become noticeable after it has considerably worsened. What happens in COPD? Mucus builds up in your airways. Scarring will take place, eventually narrowing your airways. Impaired lung function combined with difficult air flow also means that air easily gets trapped in your airways. Who’s at risk? As a disease of the airways, it is easy to point the culprit to prolonged exposure to air pollution. However, that is not the only cause. Other risks for developing COPD are: ● Holding jobs in which harmful airborne particles are frequently dealt with. ● Having a genetic condition called alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency, a lack of which thereof can render your lungs vulnerable. ● Being a smoker. Smoking puts you at a major risk to get COPD. The more you smoke, the faster the disease progresses. I am having difficulty in physically keeping up with my peers. What should I do? Your healthcare provider will need to get an accurate picture of what you’re dealing with. If it raises any alarms, investigations will need to be performed in order to confirm your diagnosis. They are: ● Blood levels of alpha-1-antitrypsin ● Pulmonary Function Testing ○ a group of tests used to measure how well your lungs are working. ● Arterial blood gases ○ used to classify disease severity and allows treatment to be tailored accordingly. ● Chest X-ray ○ helpful in determining the extent of damage to your lungs. COPD smoking COPD smoking 1 I have just been diagnosed with COPD, what now? Around half a million Malaysian adults are also battling with COPD. Don’t be discouraged, help is always available. Seek advice from your healthcare provider. Being informed in your decision-making boosts your confidence in tackling this disease appropriately. Here are tips that you can follow: ● Stop smoking! The earlier you stop, the better your chances at recovery. ● Join COPD support groups. It is easier to find encouragement within people who share the same problem. ● Attend pulmonary rehabilitation courses. The team will train you in ways to breathe better and cope with your daily activities. ● Stay active and continue to exercise. Don’t let COPD stop you from your goals! You are better in control of your condition when your general fitness and mental state improves. Do I need to take any medications? Depending on the severity of your condition, doctors will provide you with medications to allow you to better cope with your disease. Treatment of COPD often includes: ● Inhalers ○ They work to expand your narrowed airways InhalerAntibiotics ○ For bacterial infection that may worsen your breathing ● Vaccinations ○ Necessary to reduce the risk of infections that worsens your condition ● Home oxygen therapy in later stages of COPD ○ The method of oxygen delivery you get will be tailored to suit your lifestyle and where you live. ○ Oxygen can be stored in a cylinder at home or concentrated directly from the environment with an oxygen concentrator. ○ Some of these devices are small enough to be portable, allowing better ease of use and better mobility to the patient. Oxygen storageCOPD portable What’s next for me? With adequate treatment, you will be able to avoid problems arising from the illness and allow you to revert back to normalcy in your life as much as possible. Adhere to your treatment plans and be proactive in engaging your care team on ways to better manage your condition. Breathing exercises for COPD: When practiced regularly, helps in exertion during physical activities, allowing you to feel more energetic. BE1BE4 Pursed lip breathing  (Source: BE2BE5 Deep breathing  (Source: BE3BE6 Diaphragmatic breathing   (Source: Lung1 Chest x ray of COPD patient  Source: Lung2 Inflated lung fields, depressed diaphragm, and reduced blood supply in the lungs Source:

Prepared by: Kiong Chean Kenn, Addy Ang Aun Wei, Tiffany Lee Rouyen, Soh Suit Yee, Nur Akmal bt Mamat, Prof Rumi Khajotia, International Medical University

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