Skip to content

October 31, 2019

Best treatment for COPD in Veterans

Last updated on March 16, 2021

COPD in Veterans (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), can make it difficult to conduct daily activities. With Veterans already having to go through the stress of transition, COPD becomes another obstacle. Daily activities, such as getting up in the morning, are more challenging for one that has COPD versus one that doesn’t. 

Recognizing the signs of COPD in Veterans is essential as it will help manage the disease. The earlier, the better so that doctors can recommend treatments.

COPD makes a person have shortness of breath, which is a daily occurrence. When a Veteran is first diagnosed with COPD, their lifestyle drastically changes, and they will need to adjust to their everyday activities. 

What is COPD?

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a severe disease that progresses over time and, unfortunately, incurable. The lung diseases associated with COPD are emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and refractory (non-reversible) asthma. It is vital to seek the right treatment for one to enjoy their life.

Emphysema occurs when there is damage to the air sacs in the lungs, where it is harder to breathe. The air sacs are restricted to oxygen. Chronic bronchitis is when there is damage to the bronchial tubes causing coughing and shortness of breath. When a person coughs and mucus is present, the mucus can last up to two years. Refractory asthma is not the same as regular asthma, where medication can open up the airways for one to breathe. In refractory asthma, medication is ineffective.

Causes of COPD

One of the main factors for acquiring COPD in Veterans is smoking. Since smoking directly affects the lungs, there is a substantial amount of chemicals that pass in and out. The compound effect of tobacco will most likely develop COPD. Another factor is second-hand smoke and air pollution with long-term exposure. 

COPD in Veterans is often misdiagnosed, make sure to get tested to ensure that you are receiving the correct treatment. The best test to get done for this is the lung pulmonary function test, which measures the amount of oxygen which comes into your lungs.

Signs and Symptoms

COPD in Veterans can vary from person to person. Still, constant shortness of breath, wheezing, excessive coughing, and difficulty of simple activities are few ways to recognize the signs. At first, the shortness of breath can be brief, but when it progresses into a more severe issue, then it is time to check out the situation with your physician. It is essential to take account of your symptoms that occur daily.

Living with COPD

Now that we’ve defined with COPD is, what the causes are, and the symptoms, let’s picture a normal person version a person with COPD:

When an average person wakes up for the day, they get out of bed, go to the bathroom, then head to the kitchen for a cup of coffee. They eat breakfast and get ready for a shower. After 15-20 minutes, they are done with their shower and get changed for work.  

For the person with COPD, they wake up slowly and have to catch their breath. They are still in their bed dealing with aches and shortness of breath. They didn’t get enough sleep because they woke up every two hours trying to battle their breathing. As they attempt to get out of bed, they struggle to even head to the bathroom. They must take breaks during this short walk to the bathroom, which results in frustration. They head to the kitchen, but they are moving very slowly. 

Once reaching the kitchen, they take their medication, which alleviates the pain and can breathe better before getting in the shower and getting ready for the day. Currently, 30 minutes have gone by versus the average person where they were done in 30 minutes to head to work.

These two scenarios greatly vary because one has difficulty with tasks that seem simple to many but in reality, are very difficult with COPD. Veterans have to adjust to their post-military lifestyle, knowing civilian life. To even put things into perspective, Veterans have probably lived in many places, been deployed, under a lot of pressure, and having that go-go-go mentality. With COPD, the Veterans will need to adopt a modified lifestyle.

So what can I do about my COPD?

Besides medicine, there are some common treatments which can help with the disease according to the Mayo Clinic:

  • Stop smoking! This will only further harm the lungs and will eventually reduce or eliminate your ability to breathe
  • Lung therapies. If your blood does not have enough oxygen in it, then you may need to supplement your oxygen
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation program. This program combines education, nutrition advice, counseling, and exercise training to give you the best solution and shorten the hospitalization visits
  • Managing exacerbations. This is defined as your symptoms become worse for days or weeks. If you do not receive the treatment, you could have lung failure as a result
  • Surgery. Surgery is an option depending on the type and development of the COPD you have.

If you need help receiving treatment from the VA due to a low rating, reach out! Through VA Claims Insider you will get access to our Elite Experience Portal AND VA medical nexus letters through our network! See you on the inside!

Are you STUCK, FRUSTRATED and UNDERRATED?

You are not alone! We are Veterans helping Veterans!
Become an Elite Member and work with our Veteran Coaches to get the rating you deserve! 


About the Author

About VA Claims Insider

VA Claims insider is an education-based coaching/consulting company. We’re here for disabled veterans exploring eligibility for increased VA disability benefits and who wish to learn more about that process. We also connect veterans with independent medical professionals in our referral network for medical examinations, disability evaluations, and credible Independent Medical Opinions & Nexus Statements (Medical Nexus Letters) for a wide range of disability conditions.

Related Articles

Featured Resources

Elite Membership

Dear Veteran,
Here’s the brutal truth about VA disability claims:

According to our data, 8/10 (80%) of veterans reading this message right now are underrated by the VA…

This means you do NOT currently have the VA disability rating and compensation YOU deserve, and you could be missing out on thousands of dollars of tax-free compensation and benefits each month.

As a fellow disabled Veteran this is shameful and I’m on a mission to change it.

Brian Reese here, Air Force service-disabled Veteran and Founder @ VA Claims Insider.

Since 2016, VA Claims Insider has helped thousands of Veterans just like you get the VA rating and compensation they deserve in less time.

If accepted into our ELITE membership program, you’ll get free up-front access and permission to use $13,119 worth of proprietary VA claim resources, including access to our network of independent medical professionals for medical examinations, disability evaluations, and credible Medical Nexus Letters, which could help you get a HIGHER VA rating in LESS time.

It’s FREE to get started, so click “Go Elite Now” below to complete our 3-step intake process.

  1. Complete Basic Information
  2. Sign Members Agreement
  3. Join the Mastermind Group

If you’re stuck, frustrated, underrated, and currently rated between 0%-90%, VA Claims Insider Elite is for you!

Click “Go Elite Now” below to get started today and a member of our team will be in touch within minutes.

Go Elite Now!

Why Choose VA Claims Insider

You’ve exhausted your free resources

You're not alone. Thousands of other Veterans in our Community are here for you.

Veteran Community

You’re ready to get the rating you deserve

We know the pain of feeling stuck, frustrated, and alone, and we want to make this process as easy and painless as possible for you.

Explore Elite Membership

We win ONLY when YOU win

Hear from fellow Veterans just like you, with many of our Veteran Success Managers having gone through our programs.

Schedule a Call