COPD - Symptoms, Prevention & Treatment
In the USA, the primary cause of death after heart disease and cancer is COPD. It is the 5th primary cause of death in the world.
According to a survey, COPD took the lives of about 3 million individuals in the year 2012.
Strict action is needed against tobacco consumption, or else the impact of COPD shall become even worse.
Nearly half of the COPD disease among individuals remain undiagnosed. People face breathing problems but don’t usually realize it is the result of COPD disease.
Women who smoke are at 13 times higher risk of death from COPD than those who don’t.
The rate of women diagnosed with chronic bronchitis is double than those of women.
Every 1 in 5 hospital admissions in the USA (over 40 yrs of age) is due to COPD.
What Is COPD?
COPD is an acronym for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
Chronic - persists for an extended period and can even happen again in the future.
Obstructive - respiratory tract narrows, making it harder to breathe. Air gets stuck in the chest.
Pulmonary - associated with lungs
Disease - is a medical ailment
COPD is a medical ailment that affects the lungs. The respiratory tract becomes narrow, making it difficult to breathe out air. COPD usually persists for a long time and is often recurring.
Two of the lung conditions that cause COPD are as follows:
Bronchitis: In this, bronchial tubes get inflamed and narrowed. Lungs produce more mucus and can be the reason of further blockage in the closed bronchial tubes. When you exhale, these tubes collapse, affecting air passage out of lungs.
Emphysema: It is a medical condition that causes breathing distress — the air sacs in the lungs damages. The walls of the air sacs debilitate and rupture, producing larger air spaces in place of several smaller ones.
Causes Of COPD
Smoking is the leading cause of COPD in the United States of America. Smoker breathes in over 4000 chemicals, and more than 40 of them cause cancer. When the fumes of cigarettes enter the lungs, it causes inflammation and irritation over there. The body transmits WBC or white blood cells to the site. The release of active enzymes from WBC impairs the lungs. The body is capable enough to safeguard itself from the effect of these enzymes. But, smoking can lead to overpower this protection and cause COPD. Its high time you should quit smoking.
Smoking cessation is associated with several other health benefits as well:
- Less risk of cancer, lung disease, and heart disease
- Improved digestion
- Better functioning of the liver
- Enhanced energy levels
- Less coughing
- Clear skin
- Stronger bones and muscles
- Clear mouth
If you live with an active smoker, even then, you can get COPD.
It happens in a sporadic case when genetic mutation results in COPD. If you have someone in your family with COPD, consult your health care specialist to check for the same. Family history may also become the root cause of COPD in some persons.
Most of the COPD victims are over the age of 40. After attaining this age, get frequent health checkups.
Other Health Problems
People with the following listed health conditions are at a higher risk of getting COPD than others.
- Heart Disease
- High Blood Pressure
- High Cholesterol
- Sleep Apnea
Signs And Symptoms Of COPD
You may not experience any symptoms of COPD unless it has become severe. Shortness of breath is one of the significant signs of COPD. If you ever feel breathing problems, don’t overlook it. Consult your doctor immediately if the same thing happens to you.
Other symptoms include:
- Persistent cough
- Frequent colds
- Unexpected weight loss
- Blue lips or fingernails
- Chest firmness
- Swollen legs, feet or ankle
- Coughing loads of gunk
- Energy loss
Treatment of COPD requires proper medicines. It can relieve symptoms, prevent complexities, and eventually and slow down the progress of the disease.
Respiratory infections can worsen your symptoms of COPD. The doctor will prescribe certain medicines to cure the disease. Take them as per your doctor’s advice, or else the infection could return quickly.
Antibiotics are generally given for acute exacerbation but is not a recommended preventive measure.
Swollen air tracts are treated with steroids. You may take inhaled steroids or oral steroids, depending on your requirements.
If you get severe inflammations on your skin, take inhaled steroids. If the disease progresses over some time, go for oral steroids.
Examples of inhaled steroids:
- fluticasone Propionate
- budesonide(Pulmicort Flexhaler)
- beclomethasone Dipropionate(Qvar Redihaler)
Examples of oral steroids:
A combination of inhaled steroids with bronchodilators is known as combination steroids. Some of its examples are:
albuterol and ipratropium bromide(Combivent Respimat)
Smoking cessation is the first and foremost requirement to get started with the treatment of COPD. Even if you are not a habitual smoker, the therapy requires to stop cigarette smoking altogether.
Quitting smoking may seem a daunting task. You can opt for specific nicotine replacements to help you in the process of cigarette smoking.
For persons with moderate to severe COPDs, following lung therapies are given:
If your blood does not have enough oxygen, you may require oxygen supplements. Many devices can supply oxygen, including portable ones. You can carry the portable ones along with you wherever you go. Some individuals utilize these devices all the time, while others use it only during certain activities or while sleeping. Check with your healthcare professional and decide its course of utilization. Oxygen therapies can increase your lifespan.
Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program
These programs include various activities like education, exercise, and complete assistance to help you respire and function at the highest degree of efficiency. Multiple specialists are involved in such a program that can cater to the plan as per your requirements.
Pulmonary rehabilitation programs can decrease your hospital admissions and help you do day-to-day activities better.