Caring for
someone
with COPD?

What is COPD and what does it feel like?

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) causes difficulties with breathing. The symptoms, most often caused by chronic bronchitis or emphysema, lead some patients to describe COPD as a ‘squeezing feeling in their chest, almost like an elephant is sitting on it’¹.
Illustration of lungs
With chronic bronchitis, the tubes (bronchi) that take air in and out of the lungs become inflamed, causing excessive mucus production and coughing. The presence of inflammation and mucus causes the bronchi to narrow. This not only limits the normal amount of air from reaching the lungs but also prevents them from fully deflating, leaving lots of residual air in the lungs².
Effect of chronic bronchitis on the bronchial tubes
With emphysema, the presence of inflammation in the alveoli (air sacs) reduces their flexibility. In some cases they collapse, making it difficult for air to enter and leave the lungs. As a result they contain more air than normal, a state known as hyperinflation. The combination of hyperinflation and the extra effort needed to breathe results in the sensation of breathlessness³.
Effect of Emphysema on the Alveolar

How is COPD treated?

Although there is no cure for COPD, there are many effective treatments available that can help you to manage the symptoms on a daily basis.

 

Each therapy is designed to help you breathe more freely and enable you to continue living your life4.

Women managing her flare-up experience

Managing flare-ups
Having a plan in place to manage your COPD is important. Managing your symptoms and lifestyle can help you cope with flare ups and improve your quality of life⁵.

 

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Close up of mans face contemplating COPD disease progression

Understanding disease progress
COPD is a progressive disease categorized into 4 key stages. The symptoms you experience are likely to increase in severity over time but can be managed⁵∙ ⁶.

 

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Gentleman discussing with healthcare professional treatment to alleviate COPD symptoms

Useful information

Your doctor can help to identify the cause of your symptoms. Although there is no cure, treatment and lifestyle changes can help you to manage your condition and live an active life⁵.

 

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References

1. thejournal.ie. “It takes a long time to accept it, especially when you’ve caused it yourself”
http://www.thejournal.ie/copd-lung-disease-1790934-Nov2014/
Accessed on 5 August 2015.

2. medicinenet.com. Chronic Bronchitis
http://www.medicinenet.com/chronic_bronchitis/page3.htm 
Accessed on 5 August 2015.

3. Mayo Clinic. Emphysema
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/emphysema/basics/definition/con-20014218 
Accessed on 5 August 2015

4. Web MD. COPD treatments, improving your quality of life.
http://www.webmd.com/lung/copd/copd-treatments-improving-your-quality-of-life
Accessed on 19 June 2015.

5. Healthline. COPD and You: Managing Your Symptoms. Available at:
http://www.healthline.com/health/copd/and-you-symptom-management#1
Accessed on 23 June 2015.

6. Healthline. COPD: Symptoms & Stages.
http://www.healthline.com/health/copd/stages#Stages5
Accessed on 10 July 2015.

 

For informational purposes only, not to replace physician's directions.