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Understanding COPD in Seniors: Symptoms, Treatment, and Lifestyle Management

    • octubre 3, 2023
    • Disease Prevention and Treatment

COPD, the term used to refer to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is a lung disease that makes it difficult or uncomfortable to breathe. Over ten percent of adults 65+ are living with COPD.

It is common for seniors with COPD to need hospitalization. In fact, the disease is one of the leading causes of hospitalization for older adults and roughly twenty percent of all hospitalizations of individuals over the age of 65 in the U.S. are for COPD and its symptoms.

The main cause of COPD is tobacco smoke, but frequent exposure to air pollution and an individual’s family history can impact the risk of developing COPD.


Symptoms of COPD can be confused with general sickness and older adults can think these signs are typical of the aging process. Many times, people with COPD will have “flare-ups” or weeks where their symptoms are more frequent. These symptoms are often worse in the winter months.

Frequent fatigue or shortness of breath: What you think may be tiredness and shortness of breath due to lack of exercise or normal aging could be COPD. Seniors with COPD will also often get fatigued while coughing or after coughing.

Chronic cough and coughing up mucus: COPD can first show up in seniors as a cough that won’t go away. Wheezing can also be present with cough. COPD also produces excess sputum (mucus or phlegm) This sputum can be worse in the mornings.

Chest tightness: Seniors with COPD may complain that it feels painful to breathe or it is hard to take a deep breath.

Loss of appetite: Difficulty breathing can commonly cause lack of interest in eating. Some seniors with COPD may also feel like food does not taste as good as it used to. Both can lead to weight loss.

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