Coughing that just won’t quit. Shortness of breath. Wheezing. Sounds like an asthma attack, right? Before reaching for the inhaler or those over-the-counter cough drops, however, it might be time to consider if another culprit – COPD – could be a factor. As many as 12 million Americans are currently living with COPD (and another 12 million who are likely to have the disease but have not been diagnosed), so it’s important to figure out the real cause behind the cough.
A closer look reveals some important differences between these two conditions:
- Environmental factors such as cigarette smoke, dust, and pet hair can trigger asthmatic symptoms like coughing and shortness of breath.
- Usually displays in patients in childhood, often by age 5.
- Thought to be caused by genetics.
- Environmental triggers can exacerbate symptoms like coughing and difficulty breathing, but these symptoms are often present in a milder form regardless of air quality.
- Typically diagnosed after age 40.
- Caused mainly by cigarette smoking (in up to 90% of all patients), or by secondhand exposure to air pollutants.
While medications available for both COPD and asthma are often similar – bronchodilators or inhaled steroids – their treatment plans usually differ. Asthma patients are urged to keep away from known triggers, i.e., by staying inside when the pollen count is high and steering clear of secondhand smoke. Those with COPD face a more intense therapeutic approach, often including prescribed oxygen, pulmonary rehabilitation to maximize breathing capacity, and, most importantly, stopping smoking.
Naturally, it’s critical to schedule an appointment with the doctor if you’re concerned that your senior loved one is struggling with any lung condition.
There’s currently no cure for either asthma or COPD; however, both conditions can be better managed when properly diagnosed and treated. COPD results in permanent, irreversible damage to the lungs, but when treated, the progression of the disease can be slowed down, its symptoms made more manageable, and quality of life enhanced.
Best Senior Home Care, a premier Bayside senior care company, is also on hand to provide help at home that can make a chronic condition easier to manage. Some of the many ways we can help include:
- Light housework, to ensure as much dust as possible is removed from the home
- Transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments and to pick up prescriptions
- Encouragement and participation in physician-approved exercise programs
- Planning and preparation of nutritious, delicious meals
- Friendly, compassionate companionship
- And much more
To help your senior loved one remain safe and healthy at home, contact Best Senior Home Care’s in-home care experts at (718) 224-0905 or fill our out online contact form and find out why we’re the Bayside senior care company of choice for seniors with COPD.