A Cruise Brings Fun and Fresh Air to People with COPD
Many people afflicted with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) never get to go out places, as they are hampered by being tied down to oxygen tanks, get over tired from any kind of exertion, while they spend most of their lives struggling just to breathe. However, in New Hampshire in the United States is a fantastic annual event for people with COPD called the Fresh Air Day Cruise around Lake Winnipesaukee on the MS Mount Washington. Tour busses and vans from nursing homes bring seniors with COPD from all over New Hampshire. Accompanied by live entertainment performed right on board, about 300 COPD guests set out for a wonderful day of fresh air and wonderful socialization.
COPD is a progressive deteriorating lung disease that includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. It is caused mainly by smoking cigarettes, although some cases are from exposure to industrial inhaled pollutants such as asbestos, fiberglass, sheetrock, radon gas and second-hand smoke. Respiratory infections and asthma also can lead to COPD. A few cases have a rare genetic risk for COPD called Alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency. While COPD is incurable it can be treated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Lower respiratory diseases that include COPD are the third leading cause of death in the United States. About 15.7 million Americans have COPD, although the rate may be higher, as many people do not know that they have COPD.
Symptoms of COPD
- Coughing up phlegm
People with COPD may
- Be homebound and dependent on oxygen therapy
- Be limited in their activities and have difficulty walking upstairs or uphill
- May find it difficult to take a shower or get dressed
- Not be able to work
- May need special breathing equipment like portable oxygen tanks
- Not be able to participate in social activities like going out to eat, going to places of worship, going to events and places of entertainment, or just getting together with family, friends or neighbors
- May suffer from confusion or memory loss.
- Have many visits to the emergency room or overnight hospital stays.
- Suffer from other chronic diseases like arthritis, congestive heart failure, diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, or asthma
- Suffer from depression or other mental conditions and emotional problems
- Report a fair or poor health status
Exacerbation or Fare-ups
Exacerbations or flare-ups are times when people get a sudden worsening of symptoms and this can lead to hospitalizations, which can be followed by an increased risk for a heart attack or stroke. Each exacerbation causes further damage to the longs. In extreme cases lung function can shrink to as little as 15%.
The main thing is to quit smoking, especially as smoking is also a high risk factor for a stroke or heart attack. See our blog post from March 21, 2018 on the dangers of smoking, nicotine addiction and information how to quit and where to find help and support to help you quit smoking.
Other Treatments are:
- Oxygen therapy
- Inhalation devices
Pulmonary rehabilitation is a supervised exercise and educational program. Physical exercises are designed to strengthen arm and leg muscles.
The Ditmas Park Rehab Center in Brooklyn, New York has a state-of-the art pulmonary rehabilitation program. They are also skilled in weaning people off of ventilators. Read more about pulmonary rehabilitation at our blog post from February 10, 2018.
Brooklyn Hospitals near Ditmas Park Rehab Center
NYU Langone Hospital—Brooklyn (formerly named NYU Lutheran Medical Center)
Unlike many diseases COPD can be prevented mainly by quitting smoking. Since taking seniors with COPD on day cruises is such a wonderful idea let us hope that other states will follow suit and organize similar events to take people with severe breathing problems out on day cruises to get fresh air and have wonderful socialization experiences.