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COPD is a common but widely misunderstood and misdiagnosed condition. It’s a serious threat to the elderly population that you should know about. You may be living under personal care, at home, or with family. Regardless, don’t let this devastating disease threaten your quality of life.

COPD and Advanced Age: What You Need to Know

The risk is real and it increases with age. This dangerous condition will rob you of quality and years of life. Use this guide to understand COPD and its potential threat to your life:

1) Overview

COPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, encompasses a group of lung diseases that cause blocked airways. The most common forms are chronic bronchitis and emphysema. It’s extremely common in the elderly community and particularly dangerous for this population. Because it’s a progressive disease that takes several years to develop, it’s regularly underdiagnosed and undertreated. COPD remains the 4th leading cause of death in the U.S.

2) Causes and risk factors

While it’s not considered part of the normal aging process, it’s most common in those 40 years and older. Most COPD-related deaths are linked to smoking whether in the present or the past. Long-term high exposure to secondhand smoke, air pollution, chemicals, and dust increase your chances of getting COPD whether you have ever smoked or not.

3) Symptoms

Symptoms of COPD are often mistaken for other respiratory issues as the disease develops slowly. They include difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, frequent coughing, coughing up mucus (especially in the morning), wheezing, and chest pain when breathing. The shortness of breath associated with COPD can impact your ability to do simple or basic activities.

4) Treatment

Most treatments for COPD are intended to relieve symptoms rather than cure the disease. If you have been diagnosed with COPD or suspect you may have it, stop smoking immediately. This combined with behavioral therapy and medication gives your body the best chance to handle it well. Other methods of treatment include bronchodilators, inhaled corticosteroids, and oxygen therapy. In some cases, you may even need lung surgery.

5) Effects on the elderly population

Your risk for developing COPD increases significantly as you enter into your elderly years. It also becomes much harder to diagnose and treat due to physiological changes to the respiratory and immune system. Doctors and patients often assume the symptoms are indicative of other conditions such as asthma or congestive heart failure. Elderly patients also tend to ignore the symptoms making diagnosis even harder. Other common comorbidities in this age group such as depression, osteoporosis, and muscle dysfunction can complicate the course of COPD.

Be Informed

COPD often sneaks up on you, robbing you of quality and years of life. It’s a huge problem for the elderly population because its symptoms are often taken for other conditions and it’s a lot harder on the body as you age. Use this guide to COPD and advanced age to understand this serious condition and how it could affect your life.

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