SHORTNESS OF BREATH IN THE ELDERLY
By Pierre Mouchette | Bits-n-Pieces
Older adults tend to suffer from shortness of breath (medically called dyspnea) more often than younger people. When a person grows older, their energy levels decrease, and they have more and more ailments that bother them daily. This is normal! Shortness of breath is one of the problems that are relatively common in people who are over 65. People who are otherwise healthy can experience a thickening of the heart muscle and stiffening of the arteries with age, meaning the heart must work harder to meet demands, and shortness of breath is a typical result.
One of the leading reasons for shortness of breath in the elderly is COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Multiple risk factors can cause COPD, a combination of two different conditions, chronic bronchitis and emphysema. This condition causes progressive lung damage, making it difficult for a person to take deep or even normal breaths when trying to breathe.
People who run the most significant risk of suffering from COPD are chronic smokers, people who might inhale secondhand smoke for a good portion of their lives, and those exposed to harmful substances like asbestos. Some telltale symptoms of COPD are constant coughing, phlegm, and chest infections.
Cardiac conditions can also cause a person to experience shortness of breath.
Older adults might also experience breathing problems when they have too much exercise in their everyday lives. Older adults need to stay moving about and not be sedentary. But they must not expose their bodies to overexertion or more strain than their bodies can take.
What Should Older Adults Do When Short Of Breath?
Older adults experiencing dyspnea must seek medical attention. Their doctor will likely recommend spirometry, a complete blood test, an exercise stress test, and an echocardiogram to find out what is causing the shortness of breath. Once a diagnosis is made, steps can be taken to manage the shortness of breath better and hopefully bring the person some relief.
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