Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a condition characterized by difficulty in flowing in and out of air due to damaged airways in the lungs. The airway obstruction can eventually kill the patient. Its symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Low oxygen in the blood
- Weight loss
- Risk of lung infections
- Progressive deterioration of health status eventually leading to death
- Emotional effects such as depression, anxiety, insomnia and social isolation
Although a lung specialist doctor can very well treat the cause of COPD but it is difficult to manage its symptoms, especially the pain and stress of having the disease. The high burden of symptoms reduces physical, psychological, and social functioning of the patient. This is where palliative care plays an important role.
Palliative Care For COPD
Palliative care for COPD focuses not only on the treatment of symptoms but also works on the accompanying pain and stress. It allows patients to enhance their quality of life in a way that is meaningful to them. It also supports families and carers in their adjustments to some of the lifestyle changes they may have to face.
Ideally, it should be started as soon as the patient is diagnosed with COPD and be continued throughout the entire course of illness and treatment.
Goal Of Palliative Care For COPD
- To facilitate highest quality of life for patient as well as his family
- To minimize the sufferings of the disease
- To keep treating pulmonologist, patient and his family on the same page and well informed about the illness and its treatment possibilities
- Coordinating proper care of the patient in hospital and after discharge
- To treat symptoms of illness like shortness of breath, cough etc. by using medications like
- Benzodiazepines to control anxiety
- Antidepressants to improve mood
- Opioids and oxygen to control breathlessness
- Subcutaneous infusion therapy of opioids, anti-emetics and anxiolytics
- To provide facilities like home oxygen therapy etc. after discharge from hospital
- To advise non-pharmacological interventions such as relaxation techniques, humidification of air etc.
- To manage emotional effects like anxiety and depression with medications as well as talk therapy, massage and relaxation techniques etc.
- Introduce lifestyle changes that can help the patient to lead a quality life
- To provide dietary guidelines for management of poor appetite and weight loss
- Educate patient on how to stay as healthy and positive as possible during the course of the disease
- To discuss patient goals and care needed with family and friends
- To help the patient through the entire course of illness
Advantages Of Palliative Care For COPD
- Good quality days to the patient’s life
- Maximum preservation of the function
- Maintains comfort and well-being of the patient
- Improves quality of life of the patient
- Facilitates ample support from family and friends