Addressing Misconceptions Surrounding Lung Disease

Lung Disease: Many people are confused about lung disease and its treatment. That confusion can lead to misguided behavior, like not getting the screenings recommended by doctors.

Lung cancer kills more men and women than any other type of cancer, yet it gets far less attention than it deserves. We consulted experts of IHLD a – Lungs hospital in Delhi to get to the bottom of what the public — and sometimes even doctors — is getting wrong about this infuriating disease.

1. You must be a smoker to develop COPD.

The most common risk factor for COPD is long-term cigarette smoking. Exposure to secondhand smoke, dust or chemical fumes also may cause the condition. People with a family history of emphysema or chronic bronchitis are more likely to develop the disease as well. COPD isn’t a terminal illness, but it does reduce life expectancy.

The first step to treating the condition is stopping tobacco use, which will improve your breathing and overall health. Your doctor can recommend support groups and programs to help you quit smoking, and medications to ease your symptoms and slow the progress of the disease. Medicines called bronchodilators help loosen tight muscles in your lungs. They can be taken as short-acting inhalers or pills, and they’re often used along with other medications.

Anti-inflammatory drugs, such as corticosteroids, may lower inflammation in the lungs. You can get these medicines as an inhaler or a pill, and your doctor may prescribe combination inhalers that pair steroids with bronchodilators. You may need antibiotics to treat respiratory infections that can further damage your lungs when you have COPD.

Your doctor can diagnose COPD by talking to you about your symptoms and medical history, including whether you smoked or have a history of asthma, as well as performing a physical exam and breathing tests. They may order blood tests to measure oxygen levels and check your heart function, an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), and a chest X-ray or CT scan.

2. You cannot live a normal life after being diagnosed with chronic lung disease.

The symptoms of chronic lung disease come on slowly and are often mistaken for signs of aging or lack of fitness. As a result, people tend to adjust their lives in order to cope with these symptoms, rather than seeking medical treatment. This prevents many people from receiving the treatment they need and can lead to serious and potentially life-threatening consequences.

Chronic lung disease symptoms include a chronic cough that doesn’t go away, shortness of breath that gets worse with exercise or when at rest, wheezing, and the production of excess mucus. The amount of mucus produced is one of the key indicators of lung disease and can be a very early warning sign.

It’s important to remember that chronic lung disease isn’t a terminal illness, but it can be managed with medications, lifestyle changes, and support groups. Smoking cessation, medication that opens up your airways (bronchodilators), and steroid drugs to lessen inflammation are key therapies. In severe cases, oxygen therapy is used to help your lungs get more oxygen into your bloodstream.

People with COPD can also try to reduce their exposure to pollutants by wearing a mask when painting or using varnish, and getting regular flu and pneumonia vaccinations. They should also keep up with their regular appointments with doctors, to track their lung health.

3. You cannot exercise with COPD.

COPD is not curable, but many different treatments can improve symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. These treatments include prescribed medications, at-home oxygen therapy and pulmonary rehabilitation. Many people also find that making lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking and exercising regularly, helps with their breathing and overall quality of life.

COPD stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and the two primary conditions under this umbrella are chronic bronchitis and emphysema. While cigarette smoking is the most common cause of COPD, other factors may contribute. These may include long-term exposure to air pollutants and toxins, such as from living in an urban area or working with chemicals and solvents at a job site, as well as genetic factors like alpha-1 antitrypsin.

It’s normal to experience shortness of breath when you have COPD. But exercise can actually make your breathing easier in the long run by strengthening respiratory muscles. Pulmonary rehabilitation programs, such as those offered at RUSH Oak Park Hospital, can teach you safe exercises and breathing techniques that will make it possible to build up your endurance so you can live a fuller life with COPD.

If you’re experiencing a lot of coughing and excess phlegm, this could be an indication that your COPD is exacerbated. Call your doctor and schedule an appointment to discuss your symptoms.

4. You must carry around unwieldy oxygen tanks for the rest of your life.

Oxygen tanks are large, heavy, and difficult to transport. They are also limited in the amount of oxygen they contain and have to be refilled or replaced with new ones. However, there are alternative forms of oxygen therapy that do not require you to carry around these tanks. Additionally, many communities have special needs shelters where those who use oxygen therapy can go during a power outage. Be sure to register your oxygen usage with your local authorities and contact your local fire department or electricity company about the possibility of being included in a disaster recovery plan for power outages.

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