It’s not always immediately obvious that someone has COPD. This is an ailment that can take longer than you might expect to get diagnosed, especially if your elderly family member doesn’t realize what the changes to her breathing might mean.
Pain or Tightness in the Lungs and Chest
Your senior might mention that she’s got pain or tightness in her chest. She might experience this at all times or only when she’s breathing deeply. Sometimes this can be scary because most people think about pain in the chest as being related to heart problems. Your elderly family member might be dealing with either of those concerns, which is why it’s important to mention chest pain or tightness to her doctor right away.
Extreme Shortness of Breath
One of the hallmarks of COPD is that people aren’t able to breathe well at all. They may not be able to get a full breath, which can leave them feeling constantly short of breath. This happens whether they’re active or not, so it can be particularly disconcerting and debilitating. This is a big reason that conservation of energy is recommended for people with COPD. Even normal daily activities can be exhausting. Elder care providers are an excellent source of assistance with conservation of energy because they can take over so many tasks for your senior.
Wheezing and Other Sounds While Breathing
When your elderly family member breathes, she may hear or feel wheezing or other sounds. This wheezing is an indication that her airways are constricted and the air is having a difficult time getting through those tightened tubes. When your elderly family member hears this wheezing, she may also be experiencing the most shortness of breath. Wheezing may be something that comes and goes for her, especially if she’s in the early stages of COPD.
A Cough without Having Been Sick
Coughing with no obvious sign, such as a recent illness, might also be something that your elderly family member experiences. This can be another sign of COPD. These types of coughs tend to be nagging coughs and they’re usually something your senior can’t control. She may also notice a larger amount of mucus than usual. The cough may be worse in the morning than it is later in the day or she might have the same degree of coughing all day long.
If you or your senior suspect that she might have COPD, make sure to talk to her doctor. Lung testing can get your senior an answer quickly and treatments can help. Elderly care providers can assist in the care of your elderly loved one.