Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
What is COPD?
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD, is an acute inflammatory disease of the lungs due to which the lungs become obstructed and cause breathing problems in the affected person. According to World Health Organization (WHO) statistics, 65 million people worldwide suffer from moderate to severe COPD.
What are the symptoms of COPD?
COPD is a progressive disease, and the patient's condition tends to deteriorate over time. But it is curable. In the early stages, it is not easy to understand whether COPD has occurred or not because the symptoms often seem similar to other respiratory problems. Common symptoms of COPD are:
- The chest feels tight while breathing.
- Chronic cough (more than 3 to 4 weeks).
- Yellow or green mucus.
- Excessive mucus secretion.
- Pressure is felt in the chest most of the time.
- Lips or nails that are discolored in blue.
- Fatigue (feeling tired all day after long walks or exertion) is a sign of lung weakness.
- Unexplained weight loss.
- Swelling of the leg’s lower portion.
What are the causes of COPD?
The risk of COPD is highest for those who smoke heavily. Smoking worsens the disease with time. COPD can occur if alpha-1 is deficient in the body due to secondhand smoke and rare genetic problems. Exposure to excess smoke or chemicals can also damage the lungs. Other risk factors are heart problems, chest congestion, depression, diabetes, and kidney disease. COPD can get worse if you have asthma or shortness of breath.
Who is at higher risk for COPD?
Smokers: Long-term smokers have a higher risk of COPD. The more cigarettes you smoke, the higher your risk of developing COPD. This disease takes root in the body even after consuming cannabis.
Asthmatics: Asthma is an ongoing condition marked by airway inflammation. Patients with asthma are also at increased risk of COPD. If you have asthma and also smoke, your risk of COPD may increase.
Exposure to dust and chemicals: People who are exposed to dust and chemicals for long periods of time are also at a higher risk of developing COPD.
This disease is never completely cured. But, with the right diagnosis and treatment, a person with COPD can lead a healthy life. Tests to diagnose COPD are: lung function tests, chest X-rays, arterial blood and oxygen distribution analysis tests, and laboratory tests. Treatment plans are tailored to each patient's needs and may include medication, pulmonary rehabilitation, oxygen therapy, and lifestyle modifications.
People with COPD are more susceptible to getting the flu, the cold, and pneumonia. COPD causes some problems by damaging lung cells. Affected patients are more likely to have heart disease, lung cancer, high blood pressure, or breathing problems.
How do I get rid of COPD?
If you want to prevent the progression of the disease, then you have to follow some rules. The quality of life for COPD patients is improved by medication adherence, regular exercise, avoiding triggers, and breathing techniques. Most cases of COPD occur in heavy smokers and the best way to prevent the disease is to quit smoking immediately. Another major cause of COPD is exposure to dust and chemical fumes, so take care of yourself. Stay away from dust and pollution. Use a mask if absolutely necessary. People who have respiratory conditions need to take special care. Try to control your breathing as much as you can.
COPD is a significant global health issue, and its impact on daily life can be substantial. It is important for people with COPD to manage their condition in close consultation with their health care providers and make the necessary lifestyle changes to improve their quality of life.