If you’re frequently wheezing, coughing and out of breath, health experts say you could be living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD. “There are certain tests you can do, one is a pulmonary function test which is the key to diagnosing COPD,” said Teresa Summe, asthma health management coordinator with Lee Health.
Symptoms are often triggered by exercise, walking, even during sleep. “Even when you’re at the beginning stages, learn the basics, so it doesn’t get worse,” said Summe.
If left untreated, COPD will cause more damage to the lungs. “COPD isn’t like what it was years ago. It’s not an older population like we used to think, it’s a lot of our younger population,” said Summe.
That’s because COPD can be caused by things like premature birth, uncontrolled asthma, environmental exposures or genetic factors. “Just because you smoke does not mean you have COPD, and just because you don’t smoke doesn’t mean may not get COPD,” said Summe.
If diagnosed, patients can learn to manage their symptoms. “There are certain ways to breathe; it’s called conservation exercises. When they get out of the chair, someone who is really struggling and that makes them short of breath, there’s a certain way to breathe when you do that. There are certain ways to breathe when you walk steps, when you’re lifting your arms up to get something out of the cabinet,” said Summe.
The different breathing exercises will help patients strengthen their lungs and prevent COPD from becoming worse---just a few ways patients can live with their diagnosis.
View More Health Matters video segments at LeeHealth.org/Healthmatters/
Lee Health in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of health care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For more than 100 years, we’ve been providing our community with personalized preventative health services and primary care to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries. Lee Health - Caring People. Inspiring Care.