The official blog of the Lung Institute.
For National COPD Awareness Month 2016, you can help raise awareness about COPD.
There are many initiatives throughout the year that promote awareness for various diseases and important causes. November is National COPD Awareness Month. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the third leading cause of death in the United States. In fact, more than 11 million people have been diagnosed with COPD, but millions more may have the disease without knowing it.
COPD can affect men and women, people who are 40 years old and older, current or former smokers, people with a history of long-term exposure to dust and chemicals and people with certain genetic factors. For National COPD Awareness Month 2016, we’re helping to raise awareness about COPD, so more people can breathe easier.
What is COPD?
COPD is a chronic lung disease characterized by a restriction of airflow into and out of the lungs that makes breathing difficult. COPD ranges from mild to very severe and encompasses emphysema and chronic bronchitis. People with COPD experience symptoms such as difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, fatigue and persistent coughing. It’s common for people with COPD to have trouble walking short distances, and they are especially susceptible to illnesses like the flu and pneumonia.
Many doctors and healthcare professionals will use the GOLD System and the BODE Index to categorize COPD into stages. Measuring COPD by stages your doctor to better measure and understand the severity of your COPD.
The Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease or GOLD came up with the GOLD System. The GOLD System uses your forced expiratory volume (FEV1) measurement from your pulmonary function test to categorize the severity of your COPD into stages.
There are four total stages of COPD:
- Stage 1: Very mild COPD with a FEV1 about 80 percent or more of normal.
- Stage 2: Moderate COPD with a FEV1 between 50 and 80 percent of normal.
- Stage 3: Severe emphysema with FEV1 between 30 and 50 percent of normal.
- Stage 4: Very severe COPD with a lower FEV1 than Stage 3, or those with Stage 3 FEV1 and low blood oxygen levels
The BODE Index takes into accounts for how COPD affects your life, and it stands for body mass, airflow obstruction, dyspnea and exercise capacity. Body mass index (BMI) helps determine if you’re overweight, obese or underweight. Because COPD can cause trouble with weight management and nutrition, knowing your BMI will help your doctor develop a treatment plan. Airflow obstruction refers to your FEV1 score and other pulmonary function test results. Dyspnea means trouble breathing, and it shows your doctor how much shortness of breath affects your life. The 6-minute walk test indicates how much exercise tolerance and exercise capacity you have.
COPD Life Expectancy
COPD is a progressive lung disease, meaning it will worsen over time. Currently, there is not a cure for COPD, but treatment options are available. Because COPD affects everyone differently and at different rates of progression, COPD life expectancy depends on many varying factors.
It’s important to see your doctor regularly even if you’re feeling well. Your doctor will work with you to monitor your COPD, keep track of your lung function, prevent COPD flare-ups and make sure your COPD treatment plan is still working well for you. If you notice a change in your pulmonary health, symptoms or overall health, see your doctor immediately.
COPD has a huge impact on the people who have it and their families. For many people, quality of life becomes significantly diminished as COPD progresses, making simple tasks nearly impossible to complete. Understandably, many people feel frustrated by their COPD symptoms and how challenging it becomes to enjoy their favorite activities. While there isn’t a cure for COPD, there are things you can do to improve your quality of life. This National COPD Awareness Month 2016, you can help raise awareness about COPD.
You and your doctor will work together to develop the best COPD treatment plan for you, which may include inhalers, steroids, herbal supplements, vitamins, lifestyle modifications, oxygen therapy, pulmonary rehab and alternative therapies, such as stem cell treatment.
What You Can Do for National COPD Awareness Month 2016
For many people, a combination of these COPD treatments is usually used, so your treatment plan is individualized to your needs. Traditional COPD treatments like bronchodilators and corticosteroids work to manage symptoms. Lifestyle modifications like quitting smoking, exercising and eating a healthy diet aim to improve quality of life and COPD symptoms. Another treatment option is stem cell therapy, which is an alternative treatment option.
Stem cell treatment works to promote healing from within the lungs, potentially slowing disease progression and improving quality of life. In fact, many people report feeling better, reducing their oxygen therapy use and living a more active lifestyle after stem cell treatment. In combination with traditional treatments and as part of a COPD treatment plan, stem cell therapy has helped many people breathe easier.
For National COPD Awareness Month 2016, you can take your healthcare into your own hands, help raise awareness about COPD and its impact as well as be a light in the darkness for someone with COPD who needs a helping hand. If you or a loved one has COPD, emphysema, chronic bronchitis or another chronic lung disease and would like to learn more about stem cell treatment options, contact us at (800) 729-3065.