It is a disease that is related to the blockage of airways resulting in breathing difficulties. Sixteen million people in America got affected with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Conditions occur in COPD: (1)
Conditions that occur together and are long term:
In this condition, inflammation occurs in the airways that make them narrowed. Sputum and phlegm are usually produced in excess by the patients of this condition.
Airs savs of airways present at the end of the lungs got affected. This part is usually used for taking up the oxygen to the bloodstream. Bigger holes develop in the lungs that trap the air; this breakdown makes the lungs baggy.
Narrowing of airways causes difficulty in breathing as it very hard to move air in and out. Less oxygen is taken and less carbon dioxide is moved out and this situation worsens the condition. Lining of airways are made of elastic tissues and muscles. When the tissues are healthy they act as a packing between the airways and help in pulling the air sacs so they can remain open. Airways in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease become narrowed due to:
- Tissues of lungs are damaged and incapable of pulling the airways
- Airways are blocked due to excessive mucus
- Lining of the airways become inflamed and swollen.
Treatments are available that can make breathing easy by keeping the airways open. Make sure diagnosis is done at the early stage. When you breathe easily it also helps you to stay active and maintain quality of life.
What causes COPD?
Long term damage to the lung tissues due to harmful substances causes COPD. Smoke and air pollution are the main factors in developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. You can also develop COPD if you are exposed to chemical, dust or fumes at your workplace. Chances of developing COPD is higher if your age is thirty-five or above, smoker or had history of chest infections.
People who breathe in the noxious environment are at high risk of developing COPD than others. COPD usually runs in families so if you are living with a family member suffering from COPD, then you are more likely to develop the condition.
GENETIC CONDITION called ALPHA-1- ANTITRYPSIN DEFICIENCY is more likely to develop COPD. It can make people susceptible to this condition at a very young age.
What are the sign and symptoms of COPD?
People remain shocked when they are diagnosed with COPD. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease usually begins with shortness of breathe when you walk up the stairs. Some people think it is because of their age, but the case is different. Sign as and symptoms of COPD observed in patients are:
- Shortness of breath after any activity
- Feeling of tiredness
- Cough that lasts for at least three months or more
- Cough with excessive mucus
- Wheezing is observed mostly at night
- Several respiratory infections occur again and again such as cold, flu, and pneumonia. These conditions take longer to recover than usual.
- Tightness in the chest
- Blue fingernails
- Low energy
- Loss of weight
How is COPD diagnosed?
To confirm the diagnosis your doctor might ask few questions that are:
- Did you smoke in the past?
- Are you a current smoker?
- What is the duration of shortness of breath?
- What Situations make your breathing difficulty worst?
- Do you cough?
- How long you have been coughing?
- Do you cough with mucus or phlegm?
- Are you living with a family member who is having any lung disease?
- How many lungs infections did you have when you were younger?
Test to perform diagnosis of COPD (2)
Here are some tests that are recommended by your health care provider to confirm the diagnosis and start the treatment according.
It is the most credible and significant way to diagnose chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. During the test, you just have to breathe and your breathing is measured on the speed and amount of oxygen you can blow out of your lungs easily. You ask your healthcare provider to go for a spirometry test when you have your usual shortness of breath.
Any damage in the lungs can be detected with the help of X-rays. Emphysema can be detected with X-rays. Only an X-ray is never recommended for diagnosing COPD. It is always suggested with a spirometry test.
This test is used to determine the amount of oxygen in the blood. This test is painless. Oxygen saturation in the blood is detected by clipping a probe with the finger. This test alone is not enough for detecting COPD but it is recommended along with other tests.
Some other tests are also ordered by your health care provider such as Blood work, CT-scan, and other lab tests. All these tests are recommended with a combination of other tests to diagnose properly.
What is the treatment of COPD?
No cure is available to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Treatments available are given to slow the progression of the disease and ease the symptoms. Doctors try their level best to prevent your condition from further complications and improve the quality of your life. The best method to prevent complications of COPD is to quit smoking if you are a smoker and stay away from areas that trigger your symptoms mostly cough and shortness of breathe. Doctors will suggest you different things to try and stay safe.
Plan designed for the patient with COPD involves:
- Given via inhalers that eases and opens your airways.
- Inflammation of the lungs is reduced with this medicine.
- Given orally or in an inhaler
- Steroids are given with bronchodilators
- Given to fight with bacterial infections
- It will stop the enzyme from working that is linked with chronic bronchitis
Flu or pneumonia vaccine:
- Risk of illness is reduced
- In this program, they suggest different exercises, management of disease, and counselling to the patients.
- It is given to reduce the shortness of breath and protect your organs.