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Living with COPD: January 20, 2019

Made up of two chronic health conditions, COPD is the result of bronchitis and emphysema. “COPD is a chronic illness that’s treatable and preventable, usually,” said Teresa Summe, a COPD management program supervisor with Lee Health.

For patients living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, health experts may refer them to a COPD management program.  “This program, our patients who are in the hospital are seen one-week post-discharge, and we work with them to get physicians, and we help them get their medications.  We work with the social issues, the barriers, give them resources and tools they need, whether it’s a nebulizer kit, a spacer for their inhaler, we really try to encompass the whole picture,” said Summe.

As we age, it’s normal for our lung function to decline. For patients living with COPD, that decline happens much faster. The program educates patients about the disease and how to manage and delay the symptoms.  “We work with them and teach them, what is called, conservation exercises. There are certain breathing retraining techniques to do, certain ways to breathe when you get up out of a chair or when you sit down. Things that you want to become natural,” said Summe.

The program can also make referrals to pulmonary rehabilitation, where patients can learn exercises to help manage their COPD.  “Once they are in pulmonary rehab, they will start an actual exercise program, and a lot of patients are afraid, thinking they can’t exercise but it starts very slowly. Most patients do very well,” she said.

A program that teaches patients ways to control their breathing, giving them a better quality of life.

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