ORANGE PARK – COVID-19 has put lung health front and center. The term preexisting or underlying condition has taken on new meaning during the coronavirus pandemic and patients with impaired lung …
ORANGE PARK – COVID-19 has put lung health front and center. The term preexisting or underlying condition has taken on new meaning during the coronavirus pandemic and patients with impaired lung functions are being more cautious.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a long-term lung disease that makes it hard to breathe and includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. It is the third leading cause of death by disease in the United States. More than 16.4 million people have been diagnosed with COPD but millions more may have the disease without knowing. COPD symptoms look different for everyone but many suffer from a chronic cough or multiple respiratory infections.
“Before COVID-19 we would see patients that would just think they were short of breath or perhaps they couldn’t do as much as they used to when they were younger,” says Dr. Luis Laos, Pulmonologist at Orange Park Medical Center. “Now, there is a spotlight on these symptoms and we can easily test and determine the root cause, helping us set up on a treatment plan. COPD can be managed.”
Most patients are able to manage their COPD through medications, oxygen therapy and pulmonary rehabilitation. But the best thing is to take preventative actions. “First and foremost – if you smoke – stop,” says Dr. Laos. “Avoid second-hand smoke, long-term exposure to air pollution or fumes and chemicals at home or at work.”
Other tips for patients with COPD during the pandemic are to make sure they wash their hands, use hand sanitizer and avoid crowds. “I would encourage them to go a step further and before spending time with family this holiday season, make sure the family member is not feeling ill and are taking precautions to avoid COVID-19 in their daily routines,” Dr. Laos said.