Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Trying To Breathe

Do you know anyone with COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease? It’s caused primarily by smoking, although breathing in pollutants and other toxins in concentrated form can also cause the disease. People with COPD also usually have either chronic bronchitis or emphysema, or both. The disease occurs over time. At the onset, there might be coughing and some mucus. Over time, these symptoms worsen and the individual also experiences shortness of breath. Many must use portable oxygen to manage day-to-day living.

COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. And, recently instances of women diagnosed with this disease exceeded the number of men diagnosed. There is generally no cure for COPD. There is focus on pharmacological solutions, including oxygen, to provide relief to the individual.

We see a number of folks with COPD who are looking for mobility and comfort. As the disease progresses, any physical exertion becomes very difficult. Fitting the individual for a scooter, for example, provides a means for him/her to get out and about, to continue engaging in activities outside the home. We have a few customers who have needed a power vehicle for inside the home as well. Just moving from the living room to the kitchen can become virtually impossible for those with advanced cases of COPD.

We find, too, that lift chairs and other lift mechanisms (e.g., stairlifts, tub lifts) provide needed assistance when chronic obstructive pulmonary disease worsens. Sometimes the exertion of standing from a sitting position can be enough to exhaust a person for hours. A reclining lift chair offers assistance by raising the individual to a near standing position.

The key, of course, is to work hard to avoid COPD in the first place. This is one of those illnesses in our culture that can be prevented, at least in many instances. If you smoke, try to get all the help you can to stop. If you live in an environment with second hand smoke, do what it takes to live somewhere else, or influence those in that environment to change their habits. If you are not sure whether your job is exposing you to unhealthy levels of pollutants or toxins, speak with the human resources department or someone outside the company who can help you identify more clearly what your risks are.

If you already have COPD, or suspect you have an early stage of a breathing disorder, see your doctor immediately. You may be able to make some changes to stop the progression of the disease. If you already have an advanced case of COPD, find the tools to help you stay involved and connected to life. Here’s where we can help at Capabilities. Contact us for more information on products or if you are looking for a space to hold a support group. Sometimes gathering with others in the same boat helps you figure out new ways to cope.

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