What is COPD?
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD) is one of the many areas Nova Pulmonary Critical Care and Sleep Associates
is specialized in. The condition is a chronic lung disease that makes breathing progressively become difficult in affected persons.
COPD is not a single lung disease. Medically, the disease is two-in-one, causing the blockage of airflow and breathing problems. COPD includes emphysema, a condition which makes breathing hard, and chronic bronchitis, a condition which causes accumulation of mucus which triggers a cough that doesn’t go away. Most people with COPD suffer from both conditions.
While COPD has become a more popular condition, most adults remain largely uneducated about it, its symptoms and possible treatment options.
Symptoms of COPD
COPD is characterized by difficulty in breathing caused by a reduction of air flow through the lungs. Reduced airflow to the lungs may also be caused by other conditions such as inflammation, in which case the airway may thicken and lose elastic quality. Other conditions that may also lead to breathing difficulty include destroyed lung tissues and blockages of mucus.
In most cases, affected people may not realize the symptoms of the condition until it has fully degenerated. To help catch the early symptoms and begin treatment at an early stage, below are some of the symptoms to watch out for,
- Tightness of the chest
- Shortness of breath
- Blueness of the fingernail beds and lips
- Need to clear the throat of mucus periodically and first thing in the morning
- Frequent respiratory infections
- Lack of energy and tiredness
- Chronic cough causing mucus production
- Unintended weight loss
- Swelling in the legs, ankles, and feet.
Causes of COPD
There are some activities that have been associated with COPD. To help prevent against the medical condition or to prevent against further degeneration of the condition, below are some major activities that have been implicated.
Researches have pointed and associated about 85 to 90 percent of all COPD cases to cigarette smoking. Cigarette smoking, in addition to COPD, has also been implicated in a wider range of health conditions majorly affecting the respiratory tract. Cigarette burns have been reported to create over 7,000 chemicals, many of which are harmful to the health and the airways. The toxins contained in the burns have been reported to weaken the lung’s defense system against infection, narrow air passages, and in other cases, cause air tubes to swell or destroy air sacs.
- The environment
While cigarette smoking is a direct factor causing COPD and based on lifestyle choices, the environmental effect that can predispose persons to COPD cannot also be ruled out. Long term exposure to air pollution, second-hand smoking and other exposures, including exposure to dust, chemicals, fumes, and others may also be contributing factors to COPD.
- Alpha-1 Deficiency
A rare form of COPD exists in the form of alpha-1 deficiency-related emphysema. This type of COPD is caused by a genetic condition which affects the body’s ability to produce Alpha-1 protein which is responsible for protecting the lungs.
While several medical research has been conducted into COPD and its possible treatment options, there is yet no cure for the condition. While COPD can be managed, it is important to prevent worsening of the condition as chances of complications are higher.
People with COPD stand a chance of possible complications in the form of heart diseases. Lung cancer and other related conditions. Additionally, patients with COPD are encouraged to make certain lifestyle changes to better increase their life expectancy.
As part of COPD management practices, patients are advised to desist from activities like smoking and continuous exposure to air pollution. To help better manage this condition, medications may be administered to help with better handling of the symptoms and also prevent complications of the disease.
In some cases, doctors may recommend lung rehabilitation or lung surgery as part of symptom-relieving procedures.
To help people better safeguard themselves from the rising incidence of COPD, below are some of the recommended prevention practices.
- Avoid smoking of cigarette. Smoking is the worst possible thing anyone can do to their lungs and respiratory tracts.
- Patients who have been diagnosed with chronic lung diseases such as COPD and asthma are advised to minimize exposure to poor air quality.
- Exercise often as this allows your lungs to better supply needed oxygen to the heart and muscle.
- Eat antioxidant-rich food. Fruits such as berries and others with skin are recommended. Also, pay attention to eating vegetables, nuts, sweet potatoes, pomegranate juice and more.
Wear a face mask and other protective equipment when exposed to conditions that can threaten your lungs.