For people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD, damage to the lungs happens gradually. The right treatment plan, as determined by Lung Center of Nevada, a division of Comprehensive Cancer Centers, can help control your COPD symptoms, which in turn can reduce risks for lung damage. Damage to lungs may be present before symptoms are noticed and can worsen greatly if left untreated. To prevent increased damage to the lungs, it’s important to know the condition and how to manage COPD with a smart treatment plan and healthy lifestyle choices.
What is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a term used to describe progressive lung diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and refractory (non-reversible) asthma. The disease is primarily characterized, and often initially diagnosed, by increasing breathlessness. With COPD, people may have chronic bronchitis, emphysema, or both. Each aspect of the condition can feel different, which is why those with difficulty breathing should not dismiss or put off a visit to the doctor to find out the source of their symptoms.
For Chronic Bronchitis, patients feel like they have a cough or cold that won’t go away. This is due to airways that are swollen and filled with mucus. The muscles that surround airways get tight, too. This tightness can reduce how much air will flow out of, and back into, the lungs.
With Emphysema, the condition can quickly get to the point where patients feel tightness in their chest and trouble breathing. This is due to tiny air sacs in the lungs that are damaged. The walls between them get weaker and break down. The small air sacs become larger ones. Air inside these sacs gets trapped because the old air can’t get out, and breathing in new air becomes increasingly difficult.
Ways to Better Manage COPD
If you have been diagnosed with COPD, and join the estimated 30 million people in the United States with the diagnosis, the time to make changes and seek treatment is now. Untreated, COPD can lead to a faster progression of disease, heart problems, and worsening respiratory infections. Given the danger of leaving the condition untreated, taking control of COPD is of critical importance.
Although COPD cannot be cured, your pulmonologist at Lung Center of Nevada will work with you to find optimal ways to manage your health. Your physician or advanced practice provider may also discuss options for changes to your lifestyle which will help reduce stress on your lungs. Eating well and staying active will be important parts of a successful COPD management plan, among other lifestyle changes.
- Quit Smoking: If you are a smoker, you understand how hard it is to quit. It can take many attempts. Successfully quitting smoking can help reduce symptoms, like coughing and wheezing. If you’ve had trouble quitting, find support. Comprehensive Cancer has resources to help, including contact information for help lines.
- Eat Better: As with any illness, improved diets can yield worthwhile results. A major benefit of a proper diet for those with COPD is weight loss and weight management. Increased weight, and obesity, makes breathing more difficult even without COPD. Comprehensive Cancer regularly shares recipes to make eating better easy and even tasty.
- Get Vaccinated: Get flu, pneumonia, and whooping cough vaccines, as suggested by your physician. When you have COPD, keeping your lungs healthy is important and staying on a smart vaccine program is integral to successfully managing the disease.
- The Right Medications: Medications can help manage COPD symptoms and your team at Lung Center of Nevada will develop a treatment plan that will include medications, if necessary. Medications may include rescue medicines, which provide fast relief for sudden symptoms, but they aren’t meant for long-term control. Maintenance medicines may also be prescribed, and they need to be taken every daily, whether or not symptoms are felt. These medicines can help improve lung function, and control COPD symptoms over the long term.
Therapies for Lung Diseases like COPD
One of the most common causes of COPD is smoking. For those who smoke, or have smoked, Comprehensive Cancer offers low-dose CT lung cancer screenings. Screenings are for two high-risk groups: patients that are 55 years and older who have smoked for 30 or more pack years and the second high-risk group consists of patients 50 years and older who have smoked for 20 or more pack years. A pack year is defined as 20 cigarettes smoked every day for one year.
Patients with select risk factors include those who have been exposed to radon, have worked in a chemical-heavy environment or have a family history of lung cancer or a related disease are also urged to consider low-dose CT scans. The CT scan service is currently available at the practice’s Central Valley, Southwest Las Vegas and Henderson clinics.
Lung Center of Nevada Can Help You Manage COPD
Lung Center of Nevada is a team of board-certified pulmonologists, respiratory therapists, nurse practitioners, and administrative support staff dedicated to providing high-quality care to patients with lung disease and sleep disorders. The division adds to Comprehensive Cancer’s multidisciplinary approach by offering more services to patients, especially those with lung and bronchus cancer, which remains the leading cause of cancer deaths in Nevada. To schedule an appointment with the team at Lung Center of Nevada, please call 702-952-3350.
Comprehensive Cancer Centers is a multi-specialty practice with medical oncology, radiation oncology, breast surgery, pulmonology, cancer genetic counseling and world-class clinical research.
The content is this post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.