It’s never easy coming to grips with a diagnosis like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Sure, it’s caused some hardships along the way, yet COPD patients have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving holiday.
1. Better financing. For most of history, money dedicated to health care was focused on finding a cure for deadly diseases like tuberculosis. Now that those diseases are better controlled, money is now being dedicated to diseases like asthma and COPD.
2. Better research. Thanks to the gift of more money, researchers are now able to dedicate their time learning as much as they can about this disease. It is by this research that we have learned of the dangers of smoking, and the advantages of quitting.
Scientific breakthroughs. Better financing and research has helped the science community focus on finding a cure for this disease. They have already learned that chemicals inside cigarette smoke cause chronic inflammation that causes the gradual loss of lung tissue (emphysema). While there is no cure for emphysema right now, researchers have learned that stem cells may help regenerate lung tissue.
4. Better education. Improved research and scientific breakthroughs have provided physicians and nurses and respiratory therapists better knowledge regarding this disease. This has resulted in improved treatment options for physicians. It also means patients will be better capable of taking care of their lungs.
5. Fewer smokers. Cigarette sales started to spike at the turn of the 20th century, yet this escalated during WWI as cigarette companies encouraged smoking to improve morale of troops. Not knowing they were actually poisoning their bodies, nearly every soldier came home addicted. Today, thanks to better finances, research, and education, the word has gotten out, and smoking rates are on the decline. So it should be expected that COPD-related deaths should hopefrully also start to decline. It also means cleaner air for easier breathing.
6. Better medicine. Pharmaceuticals are risking millions, if not billions, of dollars on finding better treatment options for people with this disease. They have already given us great medicines – Advair, Symbicort, Dulera, Spiriva, Pulmicort, Serevent, Atrovent, Duoneb, Ventolin, Xopenex – to treat and control this disease. In the future we have hope for even better treatment options, and maybe even an eventual cure.
7. Improved technology. Some patients with COPD are required to wear non-invasive ventilation devices, such as BiPAP and CPAP. These machines used to be large, bulky, and loud, and the masks were uncomfortable. Today, the machines are compact and relatively quiet, and the masks are quite comfortable. This has greatly improved life for many.
8. Great resources. For most of history only the select few had access to wisdom. Now, due to many books, magazines, and websites like healthcentral.com, everyone has easy access to the latest COPD wisdom.
9. Gallant health care professionals. Another advantage to access to so many resources is the ease of which physicians, nurses, and respiratory therapists are able to learn new wisdom that will benefit patients with COPD. Whenever a need arises, these good folks are trained to offer help, and usually with a smile.
10. Payment options. For most of history if you didn’t work you probably couldn’t afford good health care. This all changed with the creation of programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. There are also a variety of other programs aimed at helping patients afford pricey COPD medicine.
11. Better breathing. Medical professionals have gathered together to create COPD protocols and guidelines to help regional physicians better help their patients. COPD action plans help COPDers decide what action to take in order to prevent and treat flare-ups. Combined, these have helped COPD patients breathe easier and live normal lives.
So there’s a lot to be thankful for this year if you have COPD. So many people have worked so hard to help people with COPD. Thank you for hanging out with us. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
A Registered Respiratory Therapist and asthmatic