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Monday, June 20, 2011

The ideal conditions to live with Copd

Is the grass starting to look greener somewhere else? Americans are used to the idea that they can live wherever they like, regardless of factors such as climate and altitude. But things aren’t that simple for the more than 12 million Americans who have been diagnosed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD patients are easily affected by a number of factors associated with location, and they need to keep those factors in mind when considering a move to a new locale.



Doctors estimate there are around 12 million people in the United States with COPD. The most common illnesses associated with the disease are chronic bronchitis and emphysema. COPD is nearly always caused by exposure to cigarette smoke, although long-term exposure to other air pollutants also can prompt the disease. It is the fourth-leading cause of death in the United States.


The best places for COPD patients to live feature a specific set of conditions that make it easier to live with and treat the disease. These include:


-A temperate climate


-If you also have allergies, low levels of pollen and other airborne allergens


-Low levels of airborne pollutants


-An altitude close to sea level


-Plenty of doctors and ready access to health care


-Climate
People with COPD do best in places with temperate climates and no extreme swings in temperature, which can exacerbate symptoms and make COPD management more difficult. Cold air can cause the air passages to constrict, making it more difficult to catch adequate breath. On the other hand, hot and humid air can create resistance to airflow into the lungs. For these reasons, COPD patients should be wary of living in places with long bouts of cold weather as well as locations with extended periods of hot and humid weather.




-Allergens
Locales with low levels of airborne allergens and abbreviated allergy seasons are good choices for COPD patients, particularly those who develop seasonal respiratory symptoms from pollens. A runny, stuffy nose and increased congestion from allergies can be very difficult for COPD patients, given that they are already struggling to take in enough oxygen. Patients should be sure to investigate the pollen counts of any place they consider living. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, locations with the least challenging allergy seasons include parts of Florida, California, and the Pacific Northwest.






-Pollutants
Clean air is a must for COPD patients. Airborne pollution can make it more difficult for COPD patients to breathe by replacing needed oxygen with pollutants. To make matters worse, these pollutants can do further damage to their lungs, irritating them and potentially triggering allergic reactions. Patients focused on COPD management should consider moving to places that have low airborne concentrations of particulates, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and ozone — all of which are known to exacerbate the disease and its symptoms.



-Altitude
Places located at lower altitudes are better for COPD patients' health than high-altitude locations. The air is thinner at high altitudes, forcing COPD patients to fight even harder to get enough air into their lungs. Patients should talk with their doctor before even visiting such places, much less relocating there.


-Access to Health Care
Finally, patients who need COPD treatment should consider the medical services available in any place they might live, and choose a place where they will be able to receive quick COPD treatment. COPD patients with less access to quality health care are not as well able to manage the disease. Studies have found that patients who live in rural areas with less access to health care are often in poorer health and are more likely to be hospitalized.


COPD patients need to put much thought into where they live. Choosing a place more amenable to their condition can help in the management of their disease and vastly improve the quality of their lives.
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