The official blog of the Lung Institute.
Is there a reason to hope for those with COPD?
To answer this article’s question in the simplest of terms: yes. If you or someone you know has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), it is possible to improve your health, despite the progressive nature of COPD and its pathophysiology. Today there are a variety of medications and available treatment options that help in the reduction of symptoms, as well as the slowing of overall disease progression. However, it’s important to note that, though your respiratory function can improve, it may never return to its previous health. Given the development of chronic lung disease—particularly its status as a progressive disease—the damage that it will cause to your respiratory health is inevitable.
The question is, how fast and how much damage can the disease bring. The answer is dependent upon your adherence to your prescribed medication(s), as well as the lifestyle choices you make from this point on how you maintain your health.
With COPD, the key is maintaining your quality of life as purposefully as possible. This means addressing areas of diet, exercise, quitting smoking and taking your medication exactly as directed.
With your health in mind, the Lung Institute is here to break down the realities of COPD, its progression, and to answer to an important question: Can a Person with COPD Get Better?
The Progression of COPD
When it comes to COPD, the disease is initially diagnosed in stages. These stages range in severity, from Stage 1 being the least severe, with a general life expectancy of 5+ years, to Stage IV, which is the most severe and generally accompanied by a life expectancy of less than 3 years. The staging of COPD is determined using the GOLD method, which uses physical pulmonary function tests that measure your body’s lung health and function, and compares it to national averages of healthy adults around your age.
After a stage is determined, your physician will typically prescribe a variety of medications such as pills, inhalers, and at times, supplemental oxygen. All of these precautions are taken for a singular purpose: to stop the progression of the lung disease.
The disease is currently incurable, and is a condition that, unfortunately, will only progressively worsen with time. With each exacerbation (sudden fit of coughing) or increased exposure to harmful airborne particulates or tobacco smoke, the lungs will continue to get weaker and more damaged—particularly if they continue to go untreated.
The Importance of Early Treatment
If you’ve been diagnosed with COPD, in most cases you aren’t always lucky enough to be diagnosed early. Often times, the symptoms of COPD (shortness of breath, fatigue, excess sputum production) can be confused with the side effects of smoking or the aging process in general. Due to this overlap, many people with COPD often go undiagnosed until the disease is particularly pronounced at stages 2, 3 and 4.
Although COPD is still treatable at later stages, it’s important to recognize the symptoms of the disease early, and seek out the opinion of your primary physician as soon as possible. COPD and other lung diseases are ailments that need to be caught early in order to form the most effective treatment plan to combat them.
An Image of Sand and Your Ongoing Quality of Life
Imagine for a moment that your hand is holding a small pile of sand. Based on your stage of COPD, you’re given an amount of sand. For example, you’re given a large amount of sand if you’re in stage 1, and a smaller amount for stage 4. Let’s say the sand represents your quality of life – the more sand you have in your hand, the higher your quality of life, and vice versa. With every disturbance to your hand, more and more grains fall to the ground, representing a weakening of your quality of life. However, imagine now that you can use your other hand to support the first and retain some of the sand. In this sense, your second hand represents the intervention of appropriate medications and other treatments to retain your quality of life as much as possible.
So, can a person with COPD get better? Yes, but you have to be proactive. By taking the proper medications as prescribed by your primary physician, and to take them early—before the grains of sand begin to fall—you can dramatically extend your quality of life as you know it, despite the progressive nature of the disease.
“What Are My Next Steps?”
When it comes to treating COPD, the first step is to quit smoking if you haven’t already. Despite the fact that we always recommend quitting smoking first as a crucial step to better health, the second step is to address your general health through simple diet and exercise changes.
With these behavioral changes, it’s possible to greatly affect the pronouncement of symptoms for people with COPD, emphysema and pulmonary fibrosis. However, when lifestyle changes fail to improve your quality of life in the way that you may expect, it may be time to consider stem cell therapy. Rather than addressing the symptoms of lung disease, stem cell therapy may directly affect disease progression and may improve quality of life.
For more information on stem cell therapy and what it could mean for your life moving forward, contact us today or call us at (800) 729-3065. Our patient coordinators will walk you through our available treatment options, talk through your current health and medical history and determine a qualifying treatment plan that works best for you.
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