The 411 on the Chronic Lung Dis­ease Killing Cana­dian Women

Reader's Digest (Canada) - - World of Medicine - D.F. Mc­Court

Chronic Ob­struc­tive Pul­monary Dis­ease (COPD) is a de­struc­tive and ir­re­versible lung con­di­tion in which the air­ways be­come blocked, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to breathe. When left un­treated, COPD has a se­ri­ous im­pact on qual­ity of life and can of­ten be fa­tal. Although long seen as pri­mar­ily af­fect­ing men, re­cent years have seen a grow­ing COPD epi­demic among Cana­dian women, to the point where its mor­tal­ity rate now ex­ceeds that of breast can­cer. Here are five sim­ple tips to help man­age the dis­ease.

Ask your doc­tor for a lung func­tion test

“We make a di­ag­no­sis based on symp­toms and risk fac­tors and then a lung func­tion test,” says fam­ily physi­cian Dr. Alan Ka­plan, Chair­per­son of the Fam­ily Physi­cian Air­ways Group of Canada. “As a pa­tient you should never ac­cept a COPD di­ag­no­sis with­out a lung func­tion test.”

Avoid cig­a­rette smoke

“Smok­ing ces­sa­tion is a must,” says Lisa Thibeault, Cer­ti­fied Res­pi­ra­tory Ed­u­ca­tor and Res­pi­ra­tory Ther­a­pist. “If you get a di­ag­no­sis of COPD and you con­tinue to smoke, the pro­gres­sion of the dis­ease will be much faster.”

Prac­tice healthy life­style habits

“By mak­ing your body health­ier, you can do more with the lung func­tion you have — even if your lungs don’t work well,” says Dr. Ka­plan. “That’s the prin­ci­ple of pul­monary re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, which can do as much for your qual­ity of life as med­i­ca­tions.”

En­sure you’re tak­ing med­i­ca­tions prop­erly

“It’s im­por­tant to be ad­her­ent, mean­ing you take your med­i­ca­tions prop­erly and in the way they are pre­scribed,” says Dr. Ka­plan. “Also, make sure you’ve shown your in­haler tech­nique to your health care pro­fes­sional.” An AeroCham­ber Plus® mask or mouth­piece cham­ber can make it eas­ier to in­hale and de­liver the med­i­ca­tion to where it is needed in the lungs if you use an MDI (puffer).

Try drug-free de­vices as an ad­di­tional ther­apy

“There are non­phar­ma­co­log­i­cal in­ter­ven­tions for COPD, and one that re­ally stands out is the Aer­o­bika® OPEP de­vice,” says Thibeault. “It’s an un­med­i­cated de­vice that shakes the air­ways up, al­low­ing pa­tients to get rid of the mu­cous that is ac­cu­mu­lat­ing in their lungs. We have re­cent stud­ies show­ing that proper use of the de­vice can im­prove breath­ing and qual­ity of life, re­duce COPD flare-ups, and even re­coup new ar­eas of the lungs that had pre­vi­ously been plugged by mu­cus.”

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