The official blog of the Lung Institute.
When you’re living with a chronic health condition, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or chronic bronchitis, performing daily activities can be difficult. On top of trying to manage your condition, seeing doctors regularly and understanding your condition may seem nearly impossible. To help you maximize your time and energy, we’ve compiled 5 easy steps on how to research COPD treatment options.
Receiving the proper diagnosis is essential to being proactive in your healthcare. Currently, 11 million people in the United States have a COPD diagnosis. However, an estimated 24 million people may have the disease without knowing it. Because COPD and other chronic lung diseases cause similar symptoms, such as shortness of breath, coughing and fatigue, it can be challenging to receive the right diagnosis. Chronic lung diseases also affect people differently. For some people, COPD worsens gradually, and for others, COPD progresses rapidly. COPD, emphysema, chronic bronchitis and other chronic lung diseases are progressive, meaning they will worsen over time. That’s why it’s important to see your doctor regularly, especially if you notice a change in your symptoms. When you have the proper diagnosis, it’ll be easier to research COPD treatment options.
4. COPD Education
Once you have the proper diagnosis, it’s important to educate yourself on your diagnosis as well as to research COPD treatment options. While COPD, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, pulmonary fibrosis and other chronic lung diseases cause similar symptoms, they are different in the way they affect the lungs. Understanding your condition and how it affects your lungs and body will help you remain proactive.
Simply put, COPD, emphysema and chronic bronchitis are obstructive lung diseases. COPD is characterized by the restriction of airflow into and out of the lungs. Emphysema gradually destroys the air sacs in the lungs. Chronic bronchitis causes inflammation in the air passages of the lungs. Often, these diseases are diagnosed together and similar treatments are used to manage symptoms. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for COPD, emphysema or chronic bronchitis.
3. Ask Questions
It’s normal to have questions, especially regarding your health. A great way to research COPD treatment options is to ask questions. As you research, you may think of more questions, which is good. Write down your questions as you think of them and take your questions with you for your next doctor’s appointment. Your doctor will be able to answer your questions and help you better understand your condition and treatment options.
If you’re having a hard time thinking of questions, here are a few to get you started:
- What is COPD?
- What causes COPD?
- Does diet affect COPD?
- What is a COPD flare-up?
- Does weather affect COPD?
- What types of exercise can I do?
- What does low blood oxygen mean?
- Will I need to have pulmonary rehabilitation?
- What types of medications will I need to take?
- How can I manage COPD morning headaches?
- Will I need to use supplemental oxygen or oxygen therapy?
- Are there any natural COPD treatments or alternative therapies for COPD?
2. Research COPD Treatment Options
Now that you’ve gathered your information and asked your questions, it’s time to research COPD treatment options specifically. You and your doctor will work together to choose the best treatment plan for you. Your doctor may recommend certain medications, such as inhalers and corticosteroids. Depending on your blood oxygen level, your doctor may also recommend that you use oxygen therapy. Oxygen therapy is used to help you receive enough oxygen, so your body functions properly. Pulmonary rehabilitation is a program that combines exercise, education and support to help people with chronic lung diseases, helping them function at the highest level possible.
In combination with traditional treatments, some people with lung disease have tried alternative COPD treatments, such as herbs, vitamins, acupuncture, chiropractic and stem cell therapy. Herbs such as peppermint, oregano, turmeric and osha root can ease COPD symptoms and reduce inflammation. Dietary supplements like vitamins D and E, omega-3 fatty acids and eucalyptus work to expel phlegm and reduce inflammation. Acupuncture promotes relaxation, which aids in deeper breathing. Chiropractic care helps keep the spine in alignment, and chiropractors can teach patients with COPD safe chest stretches.
1. Start COPD Treatment
The time to treat COPD is now. As COPD progresses, it can become harder to manage, so treating it early and quickly will help you breathe easier sooner. In combination with traditional treatment options, many patients have found stem cell therapy beneficial. Because stem cell therapy for COPD promotes healing within the lungs, directly addressing the source of inflammation, many people experience an improved quality of life and improved lung function after treatment. In fact, patients are able to get back to their favorite activities, reduce or come off of their oxygen, walk farther and perform daily tasks without feeling so out of breath. If you or a loved one has COPD, emphysema, chronic bronchitis of another chronic lung disease and would like to learn more about stem cell treatment options, contact us at (800) 729-3065.