Improving COPD Management for Women
Women face unique challenges when managing their COPD. This may be in part due to comorbidities (other illnesses) like asthma, osteoporosis, and depression. Additionally, without a timely diagnosis, women may experience worsening symptoms which can impact their quality of life.
Due to these differences, women living with COPD require care options and management plans specific to their needs. Along with medication such as corticosteroids and bronchodilators, there are additional therapies that can slow the progression of COPD and its comorbidities.
To improve their quality of life, women living with COPD should include these therapies:
- Smoking Cessation
- Pulmonary Rehabilitation
- Patient Education
Pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) is a great resource to improve disease progression in women. PR is an individualized medical program that incorporates patient education, exercise, breathing techniques, and supplemental oxygen for people with chronic lung disease.
Along with alleviating some physical symptoms such as shortness of breath and fatigue, pulmonary rehabilitation has been effective in improving mental health. The mental health benefits of PR are particularly important for women because women with COPD are more likely to experience anxiety and depression than men.
During a pulmonary rehabilitation visit, you may exercise with or without supplementary oxygen, learn about ways to manage symptoms at home, and receive nutrition counseling.
Ask your doctor for a referral to a pulmonary rehabilitation program to receive an initial pulmonary function test and learn how to manage your individual symptoms.
A major part of improving management of COPD for women is to increase awareness. The misconception that COPD is a disease that largely affects older males is harmful and outdated. COPD is a women’s health issue and through additional awareness, such as the WECARE campaign, and more medical research, we can better understand why women are more susceptible to severe COPD.
As more awareness is brought to this issue, the management of COPD in women will be improved. To improve the quality of life and well-being of women living with COPD, physicians must be knowledgeable about the gender-based differences in risk and presentation.