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Navigating a Diagnosis of COPD

by Shannon, April 29, 2019

 

As professionals in the care industry, the experts at Care Indeed know that navigating progressive diseases such as COPD can be difficult. That’s why we provide hourly and live-in care for individuals and elderly clients in need of support and companionship. Our mission is also to educate our client base and the community on how diseases and ailments affect the mind and body.

 As a continuation to our series on Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, also known as COPD, we are committed to helping you learn coping skills for navigating COPD with grace. Care Indeed is committed to giving you the resources you need to find the care you deserve and need.

The Diagnosis

The process of determining whether or not you have COPD requires an in-depth consultation with a physician. At this consultation, a physician will inquire about your health history and discuss the risk factors, which, according to the American Lung Association include:

  • A history of smoking
  • Exposure to dust, chemicals, air pollution or second hand smoke
  • Symptoms such as excess mucus, chronic coughing or shortness of breath
  • Family members diagnosed with COPD

 

Since COPD includes conditions such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema, additional testing is necessary to fully diagnose COPD. Common tests may include a spirometry. This is a test of how your lungs are operating. The test requires the patient to blow into a tube and mouthpiece that is attached to a small machine, ultimately measuring the rate and amount of air you can blow. The good news is that a spirometry test can detect COPD well before you even have symptoms. In some cases, though, a spirometry test is conducted to see how COPD is progressing with patients already diagnosed.

 It is also common for physicians to conduct other tests, such as chest x-rays and an arterial blood gas test which helps to measure the amount of oxygen in your blood. In addition, this test helps to see how well your lungs are removing carbon dioxide from the blood.

 Physicians may also order laboratory tests, according to the Mayo Clinic. Although bloodwork cannot diagnose COPD, these tests may be conducted to rule out other conditions you may have. Primarily, it’s important to rule out whether or not you possess the genetic disorder alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency, which is a potential cause of COPD. Physicians will only conduct this test if a family history of COPD exists.

The Symptoms

In the early stages of COPD, patients may not notice any symptoms that are out of the ordinary. For instance, you may have a dry cough that is commonly attributed to the common cold or even allergies. However, as the disease progresses, you’ll start to notice the following symptoms, according to Medical News Today.

 

  • Chronic cough: A cough that continues longer than two months is often classified as chronic. With COPD, patients notice that the cough is persistent and often stemming from the chest. While it’s common to cough as a response to exposure to smoke, mucus or chemicals, a chronic cough signals that a problem exists within the lungs.

 

  • Excess Mucus: One of the earliest signs of COPD is excess mucus. While mucus is necessary to moisten the airways, mucus can also trap irritants and germs in the lungs. Too much mucus causes a person to cough, which with COPD, leads to chronic coughing.

 

  • Shortness of Breath: When the air passages in the lungs are obstructed, it is much more difficult to breathe. As a result, individuals with COPD often experience shortness of breath. During the early stages of the disease, patients may only notice shortness of breath after activity or exercise, but this symptom worsens over time, even when people are less active.

 

  • Fatigue: Because breathing requires an individual to exert effort, the continuous activity can lead to fatigue. You may feel more tired because it requires more energy to breathe normally.

How Can I Find the Support I Need?

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a form of COPD, you need resources, support and compassion to navigate the disease. Care Indeed professionals are here for you.

 Support and care is essential as you cope with a COPD diagnosis. Care Indeed professionals are highly-trained to assist with mobility, hygiene, transportation and companionship regardless of your condition or disease. We offer local resources for our clients and their families to help you understand the level of care you need. In addition, our professional caregivers are available to help you with daily tasks to ease the transition when COPD progresses.

 Life with any type of COPD is challenging and learning how to accept the challenge is the first step in improving your overall quality of life. While you may struggle with the changes as a patient, caregiver or family member, the support you need is only a click away.

 Care Indeed is committed to providing you the support and in-home caregivers who understand your challenges and daily struggles at work and home. Learn more about how to get the support you need while living with COPDtoday