a woman examines herself in two mirrors with two different reflections

COPD vs. Aging (Part 2)

Last updated: August 2021

Editor's note: this is part 2 of a two-part series. Be sure to check out part 1!

We have been talking about COPD vs. aging. How do we know for sure if it’s our disease or if it’s aging?

Back to the basics

Never doubt that

We know that we have COPD. We know that emphysema and chronic bronchitis fall under that COPD heading. Pulmonary function tests, CT Scans, and/or x-rays have confirmed the presence of disease. We have possibly had exacerbations or pneumonia. Coughing or shortness of breath might be symptoms. Low oxygen readings, a lot of mucus, and possibly weight loss are also likely present. These are all real and proven. Never doubt that.

Taking care of our health

A good start to addressing this is by taking care of our health!

  • Quit smoking.
  • See your doctor as scheduled.
  • Take medication as prescribed, that includes oxygen. Also, include herbs and more with your doctor's consent.
  • Exercise is so important. Maybe there is a pulmonary rehab available nearby.
  • Nutrition is also so important. Eat healthy with a proper diet.
  • Lean on support systems like the one right here at COPD.net.

Share openly

Naps are likely taken during the day and there may be difficulty sleeping at night. We might aspirate easier. COPD or aging? Both! Journaling may help us and our doctors to differentiate what we are experiencing. When talking to your doctor, share openly what you experience. Talk with him or her about any concerns that you have. Never dismiss any symptoms that you are experiencing.

Never choose not to get medical attention, just in case it might be something else. Always treat your symptoms, from what you experienced at the beginning of the current flare to what you are feeling now.

You might also need to care for some of your aging symptoms, with COPD or with other health issues. Some of these symptoms and appearances might be because of COPD, but they could also be because of other health issues, medications, aging, allergies or more. Some might be severe. Here are some things to look out for:

  • Skin: Reddish, purplish spots on skin, dry, pale, bumpy or hives, swollen, easy bruising, cold or hot
  • Eyes: Cataracts, dry eyes, a need for glasses
  • Mouth: Dry, gum disease, need for dentures, cavities, sores or jaw problems
  • Nose: Dry, sores, repeated sinus infections
  • Weight: Weight loss, obesity
  • Edema: Swelling of the ankles, legs, hands, abdomen, face, eyes
  • Odor: Breath, body odor
  • Medications: Variety of types
  • Weakness: When standing, sitting, walking, trying to get out of bed, or more
  • Incontinency: Urinary, bowel
  • DNR: Do you have a Do Not Rescusitate order on file? You can discuss with your doctor or hospital about this

Proper treatment

COPD is a disease. Aging is part of a normal life. Medications should be taken with your doctor's approval. Why? They can improve and even save your life when used correctly. Your physicians and specialists are the only ones who can diagnose your symptoms, test results, appearance, and more. Looking at the whole you, they are able to differentiate whether the symptoms you have are COPD, another disease, or aging. It can also be a combination of all of these.

Breathe-easy, friends.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The COPD.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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