1.What is COPD?
COPD is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. COPD is a group of lung diseases that progresses from one stage to another causing complications. Although there are many types of COPD symptoms, some of the common conditions are emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
- Emphysema: This is a condition that starts by damaging the air sacs and slowly destroys the walls inside the sack. This leads to damage and the lungs become unable to absorb more oxygen resulting in low oxygen in the blood.
- Chronic Bronchitis: Coughing, mucus, shortness of breath that lasts for more than 3 months to two years, this condition is called chronic bronchitis.
- Refractory Asthma: This type of asthma does not respond to any kind of medications and it cannot be reversed too.
During the initial stages of COPD, there may be no symptoms. It first starts as difficulty in breathing and then goes along. Most of the time it starts with frequent infection due to cold and respiratory problems. As the disease gets worse, one or many of the following COPD symptoms can be seen:
- Persistent Cough
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
- Frequent cold
- Low energy
- Weight loss
- Swelling in foot and ankles
2.Who is at Risk?
Smoking is the main risk factor of COPD. Female smokers are more likely to get COPD than male smokers. Some of the other COPD risk factors include the following:
- Air pollution exposure
- Second-hand smoking
- Working with chemicals and fumes
- Alpha-1 deficiency
- Childhood respiratory problems
The main reason or COPD cause is long term exposure to any kind of activity that irritates the lungs. Smoking can be termed as one of the main causes. Apart from smoking, exposure to smoking is also equally hazardous. Air pollution, chemicals, fumes, dust and working in conditions that involve lots of dust and pollution can lead to this. Since COPD happens over the years, most of the time, it might go unnoticed too. As we age, it gets worse and when a person hits 40, the disease begins to show symptoms.
3.How is COPD Diagnosed?
When you visit a doctor for COPD diagnosis and COPD treatment, the first thing you will be asked for is the symptoms and your health history. Your habits such as smoking and working conditions will be questioned by the COPD doctor:
- Spirometry: This is one of the common tests where a person is made to breathe into a large tube. It measures the amount of air that can be breathed out by the lungs.
- Lung function tests
- Chest X-Ray
- CT scan
- A blood test that is done to check how well your lungs can filter out carbon dioxide
Other lab tests to determine any vitamin deficiency are some of the COPD tests that the doctor might ask you to conduct for diagnosis.
4.How is COPD Treated?
There is no COPD cure as such yet. The disease can only be managed and symptoms can be slowed down. There is no specific treatment method. A combination of them may work for you best. It is better to talk to a team of pulmonologists at Cure.fit to get together a good plan for the effective management of COPD.
Since there is no medicine for COPD and there are no immediate relief methods, here are some of the common methods using which COPD is treated:
- Bronchodilators: Inhaling medicines that help in opening out the path for oxygen to travel
- Corticosteroids: Reduces inflammation of the lung walls
- Inhalers: For relieving the blockage
- Antibiotics: to avoid any infections
- Oxygen Therapy: To boost oxygen supply in your body
- Flu vaccines: Reduces the possibility of infections
When all of the medical methods fail, sometimes doctors may recommend surgery as well.
- Bullectomy: Removes the large air spaces and frees the lungs for better breathing
- Lung Volume Reduction: Removes the affected lung tissues
- Lung Transplant: Replace the infected lung with a healthy one
Following some breathing exercises and avoiding smoking can help a long way in managing COPD effectively.
How can COPD be prevented?
The best ways for COPD prevention are:
- Stop smoking: This will be the best decision not just for COPD but for many other health problems that you may face
- Do not expose yourself to secondhand smoke: If your family member smokes, ensure that they do not expose others to the risk
- Protection: If you work with chemicals or fumes, wear proper protective gear
- Clean Air: As much as possible avoid air pollution by keeping the environment clean and advise your community to do so too.