Achieve Great Quality of Life Living with COPD
What Is COPD?
COPD, or Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a type of disease affecting the lungs that cause airflow obstructions. This makes breathing difficult and results in coughing, mucus production, and wheezing in the patient. As you can imagine, obstructed airways and fluid in the lungs can be very serious, especially since COPD is normally a result of prolonged exposure to irritating gasses and particulate matter, usually (but not always) cigarette smoke. That means these symptoms that make it hard to breathe normally are in addition to other health complications from smoke and particle exposure. What’s more, the C in COPD stands for “chronic,” which means it’s constantly present and sufferers experience the symptoms to some degree all the time!
If left untreated, COPD can lead to complications, although it’s bad enough on its own. People with COPD are at increased risk of catching colds, the flu, and pneumonia. They’re at greater risk of heart disease and heart attacks, as well as lung cancer. And of course, difficulty breathing prevents many patients from doing activities they enjoy or even from doing things they need to do for work or family. Those limitations can lead to depression. Naturally, it’s important to properly diagnose and treat COPD quickly and properly.
If you’ve been diagnosed with COPD, you’ll already know that it is vital to stop exposure to the cause – and this normally means quitting smoking, which can be a big challenge on its own. But what can be done beyond that? There are lots of options for treatment and even some possibilities for rehabilitation. Of course, the best options for individual cases are decisions best arrived at by the patient consulting with his doctor – ideally a COPD specialist, but the good news is that there are good options to maintain – and even improve – the quality of life with COPD. While there’s no complete cure for the disease, rehabilitation and therapy will make a huge positive difference.
Some of the treatments for COPD prescribe a drug regimen, but many are also founded on changes to diet and exercise and changes to habits. Not only do these non-drug approaches promote improved patient health and fitness necessary to cope with the disease, fitness and exercise tend to also help with the mental aspect of fighting the disease, reducing the severity and effects of depression.
There are considered to be four stages of COPD, with Stage 1 being the least severe and Stage 4 being the most severe. Not only are more severe stages characterized by worse symptoms, patients with more severe stages also tend to be more sensitive to conditions that will cause an exacerbation of the disease.
An exacerbation is a period of time— often days or weeks—when symptoms flare up and worsen. Each stage also indicates different levels of treatment, too. Antibiotics and corticosteroids are two types of drugs prescribed to prevent exacerbation and also to help ease the results of flare-ups.
During a flare-up, the airways become inflamed, and the body produces abnormal amounts of mucus in the lungs. These changes – reactions to whatever triggered the exacerbation – both make breathing very difficult because air cannot easily reach all the interior surfaces of the lungs, in order to provide life-giving oxygen to the patient’s blood. That means the body has to work harder to draw air through airways constricted by inflammation and even when the lungs inflate, mucus blocks and disables some parts. In the worst cases, a flare-up can result in a trip to the hospital emergency room. Flare-ups also tend to weaken the lungs – they take a lot out of the patient! This leaves them more vulnerable to future exacerbations.
It’s not only important to reduce flare-ups because they are unpleasant and dangerous; if not swiftly remedied, a flare-up often leads to further flare-ups. It’s a vicious cycle! Since COPD is a progressive disease, with the patient’s condition advancing through more severe stages of COPD over time, it’s considered good practice to limit the use of drug therapies to only what is necessary. Patients will have the disease for the rest of their lives, so resorting early to large doses of medications can be counter-productive for later therapy.
Fortunately, there are other non-drug treatments. Besides the necessary diet, fitness, and environmental changes, there are also therapies like supplemental oxygen and OPEP devices.
OPEP stands for Oscillating Positive Expiratory Pressure and is a drug-free option that helps the body clear the airways of mucus. Using an OPEP therapy device, such as the Aerobika, within 30 days of a COPD flare-up has been shown to reduce subsequent COPD flare-ups and to reduce the need for oral corticosteroids and antibiotics. The device is made to work compatibly with nebulizer therapy, too, so it is not necessarily a choice of using one or the other.
The handheld Aerobika can offer a huge advantage as part of COPD therapy, even helping patients with the most severe COPD, Stage 4, to lead an active and rewarding life.
Using the Aerobika® OPEP device improves the ability to bring up mucus, decreases cough frequency and breathlessness, and increases exercise tolerance resulting in a better quality of life.
Benefits Of Aerobika OPEP Device:
- The Aerobika® OPEP device increases the natural process within the lungs to bring up mucus. Excess mucus is linked to pulmonary infections and is associated with 50% of COPD hospital admissions and higher mortality rates.
- Current drug therapies have been unable to demonstrate a significant impact on mucus clearance. The Aerobika® OPEP device provides a drug-free, natural airway clearance therapy to assist mucociliary clearance and impede COPD progression.
- Pulses of resistance from the Aerobika® OPEP device open the airways while thinning and loosening mucus. The frequency range of the oscillations corresponds with the natural process of the cilia, helping move mucus to the larger airways of the lungs where it can be coughed out.
- The Aerobika® OPEP device supports hospital COPD management protocols to avoid costly readmissions and increased length of stay from acute exacerbations of COPD.
- Adjustable resistance allows the device to accommodate the lung capacity of most patients therefore you only need to stock one device.
- Easy to use, dishwasher-safe device promotes the transition from hospital to independent at-home use.
- Resistance is not position dependent so- the device can be held in any position, leading to improved compliance.
- Winning gold at the global Medical Design Excellence Awards (MDEA), one of the highest honors in the medical technology industry, the Aerobika® OPEP device is recognized as a product capable of saving lives and improving patient quality of life.
Consider the case of Russell Winwood, aka. “COPD Athlete” who runs marathons and trains for triathlons, despite having Stage 4 COPD! Not everyone aspires to be a long-distance runner or triathlete, but Winwood is a great example of what achievements are still possible in terms of active, high-quality living with the right attitude and dedication to proper treatment.
10 Tips For Managing COPD
- Give Up Smoking: Quitting smoking is a key factor
- Eat Right and Exercise: Eating a healthy diet and exercising are important to improve your fitness level
- Get Rest: Keep a consistent sleep and wake-up schedule.
- Take Your Medications Correctly: Prepare a medicine checklist and take your medications as instructed by your doctor.
- Use Oxygen Appropriately: If prescribed, follow the oxygen therapy to improve your overall activity
- Retrain Your Breathing: Utilize breathing techniques to help reduce breathlessness.
- Avoid Infections: Ask your doctor if vaccines are appropriate to reduce your risk of lung infections.
- Learn Techniques to Clear Mucus: Various cough techniques and devices like Aerobika® OPEP device may help clear excess mucus/sputum in your airways
- Make and Use a COPD Action Plan: Develop a COPD Action Plan with your healthcare provider to identify your symptoms and actions to manage them
- Learn More about COPD: Learn more about how you can manage your COPD and live a healthy life.