Living with a long-term illness (also called chronic) poses new challenges for a person. Learning to face those challenges is a long process – it is not something that is achieved overnight. But understanding what happens to you and actively participating in your health care will help you face those challenges. Many people discover that adopting an active role in the treatment of a chronic health problem helps them feel stronger and more prepared to face many difficulties and life-saving trials.
What is a chronic disease?
There are two types of diseases: acute and chronic. Acute diseases (such as a cold or the flu) usually last relatively short. However, chronic diseases are long-term health problems (the word “chronic” comes from the Greek term chromos, which means time).
Having a chronic disorder does not necessarily imply having a serious or life-threatening illness – although some chronic diseases, such as cancer and AIDS, can do so. Chronic diseases also include disorders such as asthma, arthritis and diabetes. Although the symptoms of a chronic disease may disappear with medical care, the person usually continues to suffer from the underlying disease – although the treatments he receives may involve feeling healthy and feeling well for a good part of the time.
Each chronic disease has its own symptoms, treatment and evolution. Except for the fact that they are relatively durable, the various chronic diseases do not necessarily resemble each other in other respects. Most people who suffer from chronic diseases do not think of themselves as a “chronic patient”, but as someone who suffers from a specific disorder – such as asthma, arthritis, diabetes, lupus, sickle cell anemia, hemophilia, leukemia or the specific disease they have.
If you suffer from a chronic illness, it is possible that not only it affects you physically, but also emotionally, socially and sometimes, even economically. The way in which a person is affected by a chronic disease depends on the particular disease he has and how it affects his body, the severity of the disease and the type of treatments he requires. Accepting and adapting to the reality of suffering from a chronic illness requires time, but young people who are willing to learn things about their illness, to seek and accept the support of others and to actively participate in their health care generally successfully overcome the coping process
Five keys to plan vacations with Chronic Disease
Here are 5 fundamental keys for those patients who wish to leave to some destination to enjoy summer vacations:
- Choose the destination well
When choosing a vacation destination, you have to take into account the altitude at which the site where you are going to travel is located. For a patient with moderate or severe COPD, going on a trip to the mountains (or sites with a height greater than 1000 or 1500 meters) can cause complications. This is because as the body rises the atmospheric pressure decreases and, therefore, so does the oxygen pressure, which determines the amount of oxygen to be breathed.
- Prevent inconvenience
One of the most important problems that arise in the travel of patients with lung diseases is the risk of exposure to sudden changes in temperature, which facilitate the acquisition of respiratory infections that can trigger an exacerbation of respiratory pathology. In addition, patients are advised to wash their hands frequently to reduce the risk of transmission of infectious and contagious diseases. A good alternative is to previously have a pulmonologist recommendation on what medication to use if symptoms of respiratory infection and / or an exacerbation of COPD appear.
- Organize the usual medication
In general, doctors recommend that patients with COPD decide to travel, be tidy with the use of usual medication: essentially do not skip or forget doses or substantially alter the schedules of use of it in order to maintain the stability of the treatment. It is essential to always keep rescue medication in an accessible and safe way.
It is also recommended to take medication for twice the time that the patient will be away from home, in case of any eventuality and, if traveling by plane or micro, separate it leaving a part in the handbag and another part in the luggage that Dispatch If it is a trip abroad, it is imperative to have a written indication from the pulmonologist of what is the usual treatment, to present if necessary at airports.
- Travel with oxygen
Thanks to the availability of new devices such as portable concentrators, which have a long autonomy, it is currently possible to travel with oxygen.
For car trips, if the person is the driver and needs oxygen continuously, it is recommended that he take time to rest, without breathlessness (choking or shortness of breath) before starting the trip. You must also make stops every 3 or 4 hours to get off the vehicle and get around. The ideal device for the trip is a portable concentrator, which can be connected to the 12V socket of the car lighter, increasing autonomy. They must ensure that it is in a suitable and well-fixed position. It is important to keep the cabin ventilated with a slightly open window to prevent the accumulation of oxygen and carbon dioxide. If only oxygen is used occasionally, an ultralight oxygen tube may be carried, which can be used at the time required.
- Recognize the symptoms
If you are traveling on a commercial flight, it is important to be able to identify the symptoms related to hypoxemia – the abnormal decrease in the partial pressure of oxygen in the arterial blood – during the flight, in order to request assistance early. Usually these are: respiratory distress, persistent cough and chest pain. 10 percent of medical emergencies aboard regular-line airplanes are due to respiratory problems related to COPD.
Although COPD is not an impediment to travel or flying, specialist doctors always recommend that appropriate measures be taken and there is pneumonological control before and after the trip, to avoid discomfort and inconvenience.