In the spirit of Thanksgiving, here are five things COPDers may be thankful for.
A proper diagnosis. For most of history COPD was pretty much lumped under the umbrella term asthma. In other words, any disease that caused shortness of breath was diagnosed as asthma. Gradually over time, emphysema and chronic bronchitis were defined, and, in 1959, the similarities between the two conditions were recognized and lumped together under the acronym Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Today, if you have COPD, you are diagnosed with COPD, not asthma, and you are treated accordingly.
Modern treatment. For most of history, there weren’t very many medicines to help people breathe easier. Epinephrine was discovered in 1901, and that helped to open airways quickly. But it also had some pretty harsh cardiac effects, and it increased your blood pressure. Today, albuterol opens airways and side effects are negligible.
By the 1950s, corticosteroids were available, and they made breathing easier. But, then it was realized that there were severe side effects to steroids. Doctors were afraid to use them for many years. Today, inhaled corticosteroids are both safe and effective for controlling COPD. Sometimes, to treat flare-ups, systemic steroids can be given for short periods to make breathing easier.
There are also many other medicinal options to make breathing easier, and to help you breathe easier, live better, and live longer with it. So, for this, we all should be thankful. We can also be thankful that there are many more medicines in the pipeline.
Modern Research. Just think, researchers have now delved deep into the complex human body and now understand that COPD begins with genes that have mutated, or that are changed by chemicals in cigarette smoke. Through their efforts to learn about the complex chemical processes that take place inside your body, they have come up with ideas for potential future medicines, and possibly even a cure. So, for the hard work of researchers, we should definitely be thankful.
COPD Awareness. You cannot see COPD. If I look at someone with COPD, I can see that you have it, because I am a trained professional. However, if a lay person sees a person living with it, they just see another person. So, by making people aware of diseases like COPD, it’s easier to live with it. Plus, as a bonus, the more people are aware of diseases like COPD, the more funding is dedicated to it. The more money that is available, the more research that can be done, and the more medicine can be discovered. So, let’s be thankful for modern efforts to make people aware of COPD.
COPD Communities. We need to be thankful for communities like ours. Seriously. Not only these great places to learn about your disease, they are also great places to meet others living with it just like you. I personally think it’s neat that we now have the Internet, which makes online communities like this possible. As an asthmatic myself, I think this would have been very helpful as a kid growing up with it. Yet this is a gift, and we ought to be very thankful for it.
It’s amazing how much has changed, and for the better, for people with breathing disorders, even just in the past ten years. It’s also amazing that so many people have come together, many who do not even have it, to continue to quest to make life even better for the 24 million people in the United States, and 65 million people around the world living with COPD. For this, we have something very impressive to be thankful for this thanksgiving.