Medication, treatments, and exercise : treatments for emphysema and COPD
Published 13 Jan 2020 • By Louise Bollecker
Living with emphysema since 2010, Carenity member Ledalle was prescribed several medications as well as a number of respiratory rehabilitation sessions. Here he talks about his treatments and the physical activities they've allowed him to resume.
Hello and thank you for agreeing to speak with us! Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I'm a 64-year-old man living with COPD and emphysema since 2010. An x-ray showed I had emphysema, and I was diagnosed with COPD after that. My pulmonologist sent me to a radiologist when he saw the results of my x-ray.
What were the initial symptoms of your respiratory condition?
I kept coming down with bronchitis and getting more and more out of breath when doing normal activities.
Did anyone discuss, or were you concerned about, life expectancy with this condition?
No, at least no one talked to me about that right away. I did have some concerns when they told me it was emphysema because I didn't know anything about it. It's true, they didn't tell me anything else after the x-ray and I had just lost a brother-in-law to lung cancer only 4 months after getting diagnosed. The pulmonologist did talk to me about COPD and told me that I absolutely had to stop smoking.
What treatments have you taken up until this point?
At first, I was put on Miflonide and Foradil in a powder capsule that I needed to burst and then inhale. Then as the illness progressed, I went onto a Fostair NEXThaler and Spiriva. Then my pulmonologist prescribed a new treatment, Elebrato Ellipta and I've only heard good things about it from my friends who have already been taking it for the past few months and who say I should try it. For the time being, I haven't tried any alternative or homoeopathic remedies.
You tried respiratory rehabilitation. What's your opinion on it?
Respiratory rehabilitation is an excellent treatment for our condition because it gets us doing regular exercise, gently, and based on what each person is able to do. I have only good things to say about it; I can breathe better and I've started doing certain daily activities again like bike-riding or walking. It's allowed me to stabilise my condition.
During the treatment, I learned a lot about emphysema and COPD: how to handle stress, how to breathe better even as the condition advances, how to take care of myself if I get an infection and abdominal breathing techniques that I find really useful. Now that I know what to do, I can do a lot more activities without getting out of breath, I move around and I'm less afraid of going outside.
Emotionally or physically, what's the hardest part of this condition?
Becoming active again. With the shortness of breath, I had stopped doing almost any exercise.
How are you doing today? Is your emphysema painful?
No, emphysema in and of itself is not painful but the shortness of breath can make you tired when you're doing things. As of today, I'm on my third respiratory rehabilitation and I'm able to do a lot more than I could before. I manage better, I breathe better, and there's a lot less fear around the condition because of the things that I learned at my sessions.
What advice would you give to someone who's just been diagnosed?
More than anything, don't let yourself get worked up over it. Go see a pulmonologist who can give you good advice and put you on a treatment. And whatever you do, stop smoking!
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