Usually, if something takes your breath away it’s a good thing, but not if COPD is the cause. Many people who experience increased breathlessness, frequent coughing, wheezing, or tightness in the chest, often mistake it as just a normal part of aging – when it can actually be related to lung diseases or disorders.
Acute and chronic lung diseases such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and asthma can damage lung tissue and airways. This damage can cause difficulty in breathing and decrease in physical activity. These effects can be life-altering. Many people with lung disease and disorders are unable to physically do the activities they once enjoyed.
Did you know that COPD affects over 24 million Americans? Over half of these individuals don’t even realize they have COPD for many years. Risk factors for developing COPD include smoking, environmental factors such as long-term contact with harmful pollutants, and genetic factors.
The COPD prevalence rate in California is 4.4 percent. If you’re one of these individuals who suffers from COPD or you think you have symptoms of COPD, then the outpatient AIRE program at Orchard Hospital can help you breathe easier and live better.
The outpatient AIRE Program (Accessible Intervention and Respiratory Education) at Orchard Hospital is designed to help you gain knowledge of your lung disease, manage your breathing problems and improve your exercise tolerance. In turn, this will help you to achieve your optimal ability to carry out activities of daily living, regain independence and improve your overall quality of life.
Who Benefits by participating in the AIRE Program
Patients eligible for admission into the AIRE program are those suffering from COPD. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is an umbrella term used to describe progressive lung diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, refractory (non-reversible) asthma, and some forms of bronchiectasis. This disease is characterized by increasing breathlessness.
There are 3 major diseases included in COPD:
- Chronic bronchitis – inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes, which carry air to and from the air sacs (alveoli) of the lungs. It's characterized by daily cough and mucus (sputum) production.
- Emphysema – a condition in which the alveoli at the end of the smallest air passages (bronchioles) of the lungs are destroyed as a result of damaging exposure to cigarette smoke and other irritating gases and particulate matter.
- Refractory Asthma – patients are considered refractory when they experience persistent symptoms, frequent asthma attacks or low lung function despite taking asthma medications.
Even when COPD causes lung damage, early diagnosis, treatment, and lifestyle changes can slow the process, ward off complications, and improve your quality of life.
AIRE program goals include:
- Prevent disease progression
- Relieve symptoms
- Improve exercise tolerance
- Improve health status
- Prevent and treat complications
- Prevent and treat exacerbations
- Reduce mortality – led by a certified COPD educator with 17 years’ experience (Physician order needed for “Respiratory Therapy Rehabilitation”)
- Patients who participate in the AIRE Program establish an effective COPD management plan including the four components recommended by the World Health Organization:
- Assess and monitor disease
- Reduce risk factors
- Manage stable COPD;
- Manage exacerbations
These four components help patients suffering from lung disease to learn how to have a normal and active lifestyle with minimal exacerbations by training patients to use tools for better breathing techniques, dietary recommendations, social situations, etc.
- Maintenance medication regimens will be recommended to help control symptoms.
- A local community program with patient sessions is available at Orchard Hospital.
- One to two days a week with follow up sessions as needed and permitted.
COPD and other lung diseases require more than just a simple treatment – a consistent lifestyle change is also needed to achieve the goals mentioned above, such as:
Make sure you eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and fish. Drink a lot of fluids to keep phlegm loose and easier to cough out.
A gradual program of low-to-moderate intensity exercise helps muscles get the most bang out of the oxygen that damaged lungs can deliver. The AIRE programs also offer breathing exercises designed to strengthen chest muscles.
Making sure your flu and pneumonia immunizations are up to date, keeping your distance from people with active respiratory infections, and washing your hands carefully and often will help with prevention.
Most importantly, stay active and be informed. Whether you’ve recently been diagnosed with COPD or you’ve been living with the symptoms and diagnosis for years, you may not be able to do some of the things you used to, but it shouldn’t stop you from doing everything.
Our mission at Orchard Hospital is to provide our community with superior healthcare. We strive to ensure that your experience at Orchard Hospital is as pleasant and comfortable as possible. Our priority is to provide you with the care you need when you need it, with skill, compassion, and respect.
The staff at Orchard Hospital is proud to serve the communities of Biggs, Gridley, Live Oak, Oroville, Yuba City, Marysville, and Chico.
If you’d like to learn more about the AIRE program and how you can breathe easier and live better with COPD, contact us!