Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease in Seniors


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD, typically characterized by shortness of breath, is quite a common occurrence among US seniors. The two common types of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Emphysema occurs when the small air spaces in the lungs collapse. In chronic bronchitis there is a build up of phlegm caused by inflammation of the air passages.

Symptoms of Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease The symptoms of COPD can overlap with those of asthma. The common symptoms are:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Frequent coughing that brings up phlegm
  • Developing a “barrel-shaped” chest

Causes of Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Some of the major causes of COPD are:

  • Smoking
  • Exposure to pollution or hazardous substances
  • Genetics

Treatment of Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Spirogram, chest x-rays and blood tests may help in diagnosing COPD. The first step in controlling COPD is giving up smoking. Drugs like ipratropium bromide and beta-agonists are used to ease breathing and reduce coughing. Respiratory therapies and breathing exercises are also beneficial in treating COPD.

Obstructive sleep apnea

In older adults, breathing problems during sleep is quite common. Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by the blocking of the airways due to a collapse in the tissue at the back of the throat. If you are over 40, are obese or have some metabolic disorders or prefer sleeping on your back, you may suffer from obstructive sleep apnea.

Treatment of obstructive sleep apnea

There is a special treatment called continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), which can help you in sleeping better and prevent sleep apnea.

Pulmonary fibrosis

Pulmonary fibrosis is caused by the scarring of the lungs. It is more common in people between the age group of 40-60 years.

Symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis

The symptoms include:

  • Dry cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of appetite and weight
  • Weakness

Causes of pulmonary fibrosis

Pulmonary fibrosis may be caused due to:

  • Genetic factors
  • Injury to the lung
  • Autoimmune processes

The awareness of Age-Related Chronic Diseases is a big step towards being prepared for them. And the best preparedness, for anyone, whether you are a senior or a younger person, is to have a sunny and positive attitude towards life. Enjoy your life, stay active and fit, and make sure that you go for regular medical check ups. After all, prevention is always better than cure.