Essentials of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) We Must Know!
COPD is quite a known disease, but there is less awareness about it. There is no cure for COPD, but through good medications and treatment, we can maintain a better life. This blog intends to put more light on some important information about Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Let’s begin and address the following questions about COPD.
- What is COPD?
- What are COPD signs and symptoms?
- What Causes COPD?
- How to diagnose COPD?
- What are the COPD treatment options?
Answers to all the above questions will help you in dealing with this disease without any hassle.
1. What is COPD?
COPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is a progressive lung diseases’ group. Some common diseases are chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Most of the COPD patients suffer from both of them.
- In chronic Bronchitis- bronchial tubes become swollen, causes inflammation and mucus formation takes place.
- In Emphysema- Air sacs in our lungs.
Hence, COPD patients face a lot of breathing difficulty.
2. What are COPD signs and symptoms?
Symptoms vary depending on COPD stages. In the early stages, mild COPD symptoms appear and it gradually increases in the later stage.
Early stage COPD symptoms-
- Occasional breath shortness.
- A recurrent cough (mild)
- Urge to clean the throat, especially in the morning
- You can also feel like skipping physical activities like exercising.
If you ignore these early symptoms for a long time, it can become progressive;
- Shortness of breath even after mild physical activity like climbing only a few stairs.
- Chest tightness
- Noisy breathing/ wheezing
- A chronic cough
- Frequent colds
- Flu and other respiratory infections are also common
- Energy loss/ fatigue
In worsen conditions COPD patient may feel;
- Excess fatigue
- Weight loss for the unknown reason
- Swelling of legs, ankles or feet.
So, keep a sharp eye on initial COPD symptoms to avoid a worse situation.
3. What Causes COPD?
One of the most common and major causes of COPD is smoking. Be it a former smoker or current smokers, around 20-30% people with smoking history suffers from COPD and suffers from lung disease as well.
If you have asthma, and still smoke, you are more prone to COPD. Other than the smoking cigarette, pipe smoke, cigar smoke, and passive smoking also cause COPD. Long-term exposure to chemical irritants or fumes at your work puts you in danger.
4. How to diagnose COPD?
Based on your symptoms and physical examination, your doctor can suggest the following diagnostic tests.
Have a look.
- Imaging tests- Chest X-ray, CT scan. This will give a report of the lungs, heart, and blood vessels.
- Blood tests- An expert will do this to see the blood oxygen level.
- Lung function tests.
- A spirometry- we do this non-invasive test to see the lung’s functionality. The spirometer is the instrument experts uses for this test.
As we already discussed, COPD cure is not possible, but through the right treatment, you can easily deal with it. An effective treatment can prevent further complications, ease the disturbing symptoms, and slow down its future growth. So, here are some treatment options.
Medications- Your medical expert will first try to ease the symptoms through medicines like Bronchodilators and Glucocorticosteroids. Bronchodilators are for muscle relaxation of the airways, to let you breathe without a hitch. Vaccination or flu shot like tetanus booster and pneumococcal vaccine are also a great help for a cough.
Oxygen Therapy- Doctors will give this therapy when blood oxygen level is very low in your body. Hence, helps in easy breathing.
Last, but the not the least.
Surgery- When other treatment methods do not work for any patient, Surgery is also an option. Two types of surgeries are possible, i.e.
- Bullectomy- It is a surgery to remove the bullae (large air sacs) from your lungs.
- Volume Reduction Surgery- Removal of damaged lung tissue.
These two surgeries are commonly done for emphysema cure. In certain cases, lungs get more damaged, and for this, a lung transplant is also an option.
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