Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive lung disease that results in breathing problems and poor airflow. Its impact on patients’ quality of life can be devastating, and its increasing prevalence in Canada is cause for concern — the disease affects over two million Canadians and this number continues to grow.
“COPD is a chronic airway disease. It’s never going to fully heal,” says Sheery Tse, a COPD educator at the Markham Stouffville Hospital. “If your COPD goes untreated, you’ll get more breathless and you’ll also be more prone to getting infections and/or pneumonia.”
It’s so simple to use. Just a few minutes here and there, and you’re done. It does so much for so little.Patty Blasing, COPD patient
Managing a debilitating disease
Patty Blasing was diagnosed with COPD about five years ago. “I was getting a lot of pain and tightness in my chest,” she recalls. COPD’s effects limited her ability to enjoy day-to-day activities, like gardening and playing with her grandchildren. “I did less of certain things, because my chest would get really thick on me — it slowed me down,” she says.
Fortunately, there are effective methods for managing COPD and keeping flare-ups under control. Beyond following one’s pharmaceutical treatment plan, many non-pharmacological treatments and lifestyle changes are helpful, including breathing exercises, exercise, healthy eating, and acupuncture. Tse emphasizes the importance of following a daily treatment plan that includes taking one’s medication, getting the flu shot as prescribed, and quitting smoking if necessary.
Another clinically-supported drug-free treatment that has shown promise in managing COPD and reducing flare-ups is the Aerobika® device. Over time, the coughing and lack of deep breathing that result from COPD can cause the small airways of the lungs to start to collapse and close up. “Using this device can open them up and also clear any of the phlegm that is down there,” explains Tse.
Empowering patients to take back their lives
Using the Aerobika® device has been a vital tool for Blasing to get her COPD under control. “After I started to use it faithfully, I noticed a big difference in my chest,” she says. “It’s so simple to use. Just a few minutes here and there, and you’re done. It does so much for so little.” Most importantly, Blasing was able to return to her favourite daily activities. Ensuring the inhaler is being used correctly by checking technique with one’s health care provider is important in order to get the best results.
By having regular visits with their respiratory health specialist and following appropriate treatment plans, Canadians with COPD can improve their quality of life and prevent exacerbations in their disease. Every breath can and should be enjoyable for all Canadians, and with a growing amount of knowledge and tools, we’re getting closer to this ultimate goal.