This year we are working closely with our Bay Health and Care Partners to promote winter messages to ensure the local population stay well during the winter months. This week we are focusing on the management of long-term conditions.
Here Alison Calvert, Respiratory Advanced Nurse Practitioner, gives top tips to manage Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
What is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)?
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is an umbrella term for three preventable conditions: Chronic Bronchitis, Emphysema and Chronic Asthma. These conditions lead to symptoms of cough, sputum production, wheeze and shortness of breath, all of which affect quality of life. An estimated 3 million people in the UK are affected with 30,000 deaths/year (1400/yr due to asthma) 25% of all hospital admissions are Respiratory with 50% of those being COPD.
Who can be affected by COPD?
Those who smoke will be affected. The main cause of Chronic Bronchitis and Emphysema is smoking. The numerous chemicals in cigarettes damage the airways and the cilia leading to scarring and narrowing.
What causes it?
COPD is predominantly caused by smoking but in a small amount of people it can be due to contact with some pollutants, dusts and chemicals. There is also a rare genetic condition called Alpha1 antitrysin deficiency which causes the same symptoms. BUT 85% of COPD is caused by smoking.
Can COPD be cured?
No, COPD cannot be cured but its progression can be slowed down by stopping smoking.
Your top five tips to manage COPD?
1) Stop smoking
2) Understand the condition and acting appropriately when they have an exacerbation or “flare up”. All people with COPD should have an exacerbation self-management plan and, where suitable, standby steroids and antibiotics to support the plan. Early intervention can reduce the severity and length of an exacerbation
3) Appropriate inhaled medications and through education the ability to use correctly.
4) Influenza (yearly) and Pneumococcal vaccination
5) Attend Pulmonary Rehabilitation
6) Maintain a healthy lifestyle, with a nutritious diet and regular exercise