What is Pulmonary Rehabilitation?

pulmonary rehabilitation in San Diego

Take a deep breath. 

If you have healthy lungs that expand effortlessly with air and then collapse in exhale, that single breath can make you feel energized and refreshed. But for someone living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the simple act of inhaling and exhaling is a conscious struggle that often results in chest pain, coughing, and wheezing.  

COPD is an umbrella term used to describe a number of progressive lung diseases that make it hard to breathe. Emphysema, chronic bronchitis, refractory asthma, and some forms of bronchiectasis are forms of COPD. Over time, the airways in the lungs of a person with COPD become inflamed and thicken, damaging the tissue where oxygen is exchanged and decreasing air flow. This greatly diminishes a person’s quality of life and can make it difficult to complete everyday tasks, such as shaving or walking outside to get the newspaper. 

While there isn’t a cure for COPD, the condition can be treated with pulmonary rehabilitation. 

What is pulmonary rehabilitation?

Pulmonary rehabilitation is a program of care designed to alleviate symptoms and improve the quality of life for those suffering from a chronic lung condition. At Bella Vista Health Center, our pulmonary rehabilitation program consists of a multi-pronged approach that includes education, breathing strategies, exercise training, nutrition counseling, and emotional support to help our patients re-learn how to breathe and function at the highest level possible. 

What can I expect?

Healing from a chronic condition like COPD is a highly personal experience. No two roads to recovery are alike, so the program of care looks a little bit different for each individual. After an initial assessment, a team of healthcare providers will develop a customized treatment plan and work with the patient to set personal goals – whether it’s safely climbing the stairs at home or feeling comfortable enough to take a faraway vacation. 

In most cases, pulmonary rehabilitation requires a long-term commitment. Treatment can last anywhere from six to twelve weeks, depending on the patient’s current abilities and activity level. At first, the patient may have difficulty walking on a treadmill for more than one or two minutes. In time, however, exercise will strengthen the muscles used for breathing to decrease shortness of breath. Along with a healthy diet, breathing strategies, and group support, many patients find that they feel much better both physically and emotionally after completing a pulmonary rehabilitation program. 

Who should have pulmonary rehabilitation?

Before beginning pulmonary rehabilitation, a patient needs to be evaluated and referred by his or her doctor. The patient also needs to provide spirometry test results that indicate he or she has COPD. Pulmonary rehabilitation works best in patients’ whose lung disease is in the moderate stage. However, even those with advanced COPD can experience immense relief from the symptoms that characterize the condition. 

Learn more about pulmonary rehabilitation for your loved one

At Bella Vista Health Center, our compassionate healthcare providers are experts at helping patients with chronic lung disease breathe easier. No matter what stage your illness is in, our pulmonary rehabilitation program can be tailored to meet your abilities and goals for a happier, healthier life. 

Ready to learn more? Give us a call at (619) 644-1000 to schedule a tour of our San Diego rehabilitation center or fill out our contact form. We’re in Lemon Grove, conveniently located 10 miles east of downtown.