Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) refers to a group of medical conditions, like chronic bronchitis or emphysema, that affect the ability to breathe properly. The main symptoms of COPD include chronic cough, increased sputum production, wheezing, and breathlessness.
As the condition progresses, it brings along many challenges and difficulties that reduce a patient’s ability to perform daily tasks, even walking, going up and down stairs, getting a shower, etc. And, as you can guess, it requires medical attention as soon as possible to make your outlook better.
That said, we are now going to have a closer look at the end-stage of COPD so that you can notice the signs and act accordingly. Read on to find out more.
End-Stage COPD Symptoms
Once patients reach the end stage of COPD, they typically experience severe symptoms even when at rest. In other words, at this stage severe dyspnea (shortness of breath) becomes constant and medications don’t provide any relief. Frequent hospitalizations or emergency visits are also common.
Another common sign is pulmonary hypertension which can unfortunately cause right-sided heart failure. An increased resting heart rate (tachycardia) is one of the symptoms with more than 100 beats per minute. And, unexplained and ongoing weight loss is also one of the end-stage COPD symptoms.
Medications and Treatments
At any stage of COPD, the best thing you could do to make your condition better is to quit smoking if you are already a smoker. This is of utmost importance in the end stage and the sooner you quit, the better.
Furthermore, COPD patients take medications that help them open up the airways. They mainly take bronchodilators which are divided into two groups: short-acting bronchodilators (rescue medications) and long-acting bronchodilators (maintenance medications).
Other common medications include glucocorticosteroids which are typically inhaled through an inhaler or a nebulizer and are used to reduce inflammation. Sometimes, oxygen therapy may also be needed, especially if you are in the end stage of COPD.
Diet and Exercise
Exercise training programs can highly help in the management and control of COPD. Still, you have to work with a therapist who can teach you the right breathing techniques to help you breathe better. Regular exercise is a must if you want to improve your quality of life.
Another key segment of controlling the condition and improving your outlook is diet. Precisely speaking, COPD patients are recommended to have small meals that abound in protein. This is key for improving your overall well-being and avoiding weight loss.
Contrary to popular belief, palliative or hospice care isn’t only for patients who are at the end of their lives. Indeed, such care can remarkably help end-stage COPD patients and improve their lives as palliative care focuses on improving quality of life and identifying treatments to help patients ease pain and control symptoms.
Coping with COPD
Last but not least, let’s see how you can cope with COPD and all the challenges that come along with the condition.
Being surrounded by people with COPD is of great help. Although your caregiver and family are supportive, you will for sure benefit more from chatting with others who exactly know how you feel and what you are going through.
Finally, to keep COPD in control you have to maintain a good quality of life. This means that you should ensure that the air quality at your home is good enough as well as practice breathing exercises daily. And of course, get palliative care.