Caring For Your Loved One With End-Stage COPD 

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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, in short COPD, is a progressive condition for which the scientific world has not come up with a cure yet. It is a condition in which the lungs of the sufferer will be inflamed in a way that can cause obstruction to the airway with mucus production and swelling. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are two conditions that can lead to COPD. Bronchitis is characterized by frequent coughing and shortness of breath is the most common symptom of emphysema. 

COPD In Seniors 

As per many studies conducted in senior assisted living and other senior care facilities, many seniors in the country suffer from COPD. The condition has four stages of progression and the last stage is called advanced COPD or end-stage COPD. If you are caring for a senior loved one with COPD at home, the support you offer, together with medical treatment can help slow down the progression of the condition. 

COPD – Stages Of Progression

The different stages of COPD are based on the ability of the sufferer to breathe with chronic bronchitis and emphysema. A Forced Expiratory Volume test is the main lung function test that is used to assess the disease progression of a patient. The test makes use of equipment to measure the amount of air that the person can release forcefully from his/her lungs in a second. For instance, an FEV1 reading of 36 shows that a patient expelled 36% of the expected volume. These classifications allow a physician to understand the severity of a person’s COPD and come up with proper treatment. 

End-Stage COPD – Symptoms 

When a person reaches end-stage COPD, breathing will be very difficult and many chronic symptoms can be present. As symptoms can differ from person to person, it is near impossible to come up with a definitive list of symptoms. Some sufferers can see a big impact on their quality of life, while others might see only a few symptoms even in advanced COPD. Examining the potential symptoms can be a very good way to understand the severity of the condition and the impact on a patient or tier loved ones. Some of the most common symptoms of COPD are: 

  • Chronic respiratory failure
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Delirium 
  • Sleeping difficulties 
  • Fatigue 
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Coughing 

These symptoms help healthcare professionals accurately diagnose the severity of the condition and ensure proper treatment. 

End-Stage COPD – Treatment 

Ensuring proper treatment can help relieve the symptoms of end-stage COPD. In very severe cases, the focus will be mainly on palliative care. The treatment goal at this stage of the disease will be to relieve the symptoms so that the patient can remain as comfortable as possible. A few primary treatment options available for end-stage COPD are: 

Glucocorticoids: These are steroids that can be used to stimulate the ability of our to function. Steroids can be inhaled or taken orally and are effective in the treatment of end-stage COPD symptoms. 

Bronchodilators: these are medications that can be used to improve breathing function. Taking these medications will help dilate the respiratory tract, thereby making breathing easy for the patient. 

Pulmonary Rehabilitation: This can be considered physical therapy for the lungs. Pulmonary rehabilitation can help increase the breathing ability of the patient significantly and can be useful at any stage of COPD. 

Opiates: These medications are usually avoided, but can be helpful for those patients experiencing severe respiratory distress during end-stage COPD. Opiates are mainly used when other types of therapy are not offering the desired effects.   

End-stage COPD is a very serious health condition that should be treated properly and managed by a healthcare team. Following the treatment plan and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help improve the quality of life of the patient.

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