The staff at The Laurels of Toledo, a skilled nursing and rehabilitation center located at 1011 Byrne Road, sees a wide range of diagnoses and conditions among the facility’s long-term residents and short-term rehab guests. One of the more common disease states they encounter and manage is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD.
COPD is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that makes breathing difficult and gets progressively worse over time. The most common cause of the disease is cigarette smoking, including secondhand smoke, but according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, long-term exposure to other lung irritants, such as pollution, chemical fumes, or dusts, can also contribute to COPD, even in people who have never smoked.
Laurels certified nurse practitioner Jennifer Lockard explains that the symptomology of COPD can vary significantly from individual to individual and at different stages of the disease. In the earliest stage, COPD may cause no noticeable symptoms, but as it progresses, the individual may experience shortness of breath, chest tightness, wheezing, coughing that produces mucus, fatigue, and other symptoms. In later stages, the disease can become debilitating. “It’s also important to be aware that COPD can affect people emotionally as well as physically. Even with relatively mild cases, the impact on quality of life—for example struggling more with day-to-day activities or being unable to go outside in certain temperatures or environments—can lead to feelings of depression or anxiety,” she says.
Lockard notes that in addition to experiencing a wide range of respiratory symptoms, people with COPD are at somewhat higher risk of developing secondary infections, which can make them even sicker. She also emphasizes that because their lung tissue is already compromised, it’s essential for people with COPD to bolster their immune system with vaccines against flu and pneumonia at this time of year.
Furthermore, various comorbidities (medical conditions occurring simultaneously with another), such as hypertension, heart disease, heart failure, diabetes, and others, can be associated with COPD, which can complicate treatment and management of the disease. Interestingly, not only are people with COPD at increased risk of developing comorbidities, but having one or more comorbidities can also lead to exacerbation, or flare-ups, of the COPD.
Though COPD cannot be reversed or cured, it can usually be managed effectively. Treatment can take many forms, both pharmaceutical and nonpharmaceutical, again depending on the individual and his or her specific symptoms. “For all our residents or guests with COPD, we advise smoking cessation as well as exercise to increase their lung capacity so they’re better able to function and cope with flareups,” Lockard says. “Management might also involve the use of oxygen, inhalers and nebulizers, steroids to help control flareups, as well as physical therapy to improve the individual’s lung health and endurance.”
As with all long-term residents and short-term rehab guests at The Laurels, those with COPD receive treatment that is tailored to their unique needs, including individualized care plans for each patient, with the goal of helping them achieve the best possible outcome and enjoy the highest possible quality of life.
The Laurels of Toledo accepts Medicare, Medicaid, and most private commercial insurances. With a physician’s order, outpatient therapy at the Laurels is available, as well as inpatient rehabilitation stays and long-term care. For more information, call 419-536-7600 or visit www.laurelsoftoledo.com.