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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a term that encompasses several significant lung disorders that affect the flow of air in the lungs and the gas-exchange process — the diffusion of inhaled oxygen into the blood for circulation to the body's tissues and of carbon dioxide into the lungs' alveoli for exhalation. If you have COPD and you either wish to or must travel, it's advisable to have a serious discussion with your physician to be sure that the likely rigors of your proposed trip don't exceed your ability to cope with them.Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a term that encompasses several significant lung disorders that affect the flow of air in the lungs and the gas-exchange process — the diffusion of inhaled oxygen into the blood for circulation to the body's tissues and of carbon dioxide into the lungs' alveoli for exhalation. There are several types of COPD, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Symptoms of COPD include a chronic cough and excessive production of sputum (saliva and mucus from the respiratory tract). Infections of the lungs and airways are common in individuals with COPD. Sufferers also have a reduced ability to exercise due to the diminution of their breathing capacity.

The use of inhaled corticosteroids can improve affected individuals' breathing and provide some relief of symptoms, though mainly at rest. Prompt attention to early signs of respiratory infections is important, to prevent the development of pneumonia. More advanced cases of COPD significantly impair affected individuals' exercise tolerance, and severe cases usually require the use of supplemental oxygen.

If you have COPD and you either wish to or must travel, it's advisable to have a serious discussion with your physician to be sure that the likely rigors of your proposed trip don't exceed your ability to cope with them. Your medication plan should be thoroughly reviewed, and an emergency plan devised. You should travel with a more than adequate supply of inhalers, possibly with prescription antibiotics in case they're needed, and with sufficient oxygen supplies for your condition. Although oxygen is often carried on board planes and larger ships, it's usually reserved for emergency use and may not even be enough for someone with COPD. Note that traveling with individual oxygen canisters on a plane is typically restricted, so if you must travel with supplemental oxygen, be sure to make arrangements with your carrier well in advance of your trip.


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