COPD which is the abbreviation for Chronic Obtrusive Pulmonary Disease is a progressive lung disease. It is called progressive because it gets worse with time and it is partially reversible only if it can be diagnosed in the early stages. The leading cause of this disease is smoking and continued exposure to air pollution, chemical fumes or dust. Before we get into the symptoms and the treatment of the disease, we first need to know exactly what COPD is.
In layman’s terms, COPD is a disease which causes difficulty in breathing because the lungs are not functioning properly. Now this can be due to several reasons such as
- · The air sacs in the lungs lose their elasticity and hence are not able to inflate and deflate to the desired level resulting in low oxygen intake and carbon dioxide removal.
- · The walls separating the millions of tiny air sacs within the lungs are destroyed.
- · The walls of the airways swell up thus making it difficult for air to fill the sacs completely.
- · The airways produce extra mucus which clogs them.
Now that you know what COPD is, you should also know that there are two types of major diseases included within it. The first is Chronic Bronchitis which is characterized by prolonged coughing lasting 3 or more months. The second disease is emphysema which refers to the inflammation and eventual destruction of the air sacs. Hence, COPD is an extremely dangerous disease which is the third leading cause of death in the United States.
Since you are aware of what COPD is, you should be able to recognize the symptoms. COPD symptoms are as follows
- · Chronic cough and frequent respiratory infections (particularly amongst smokers)
- · Shortness of breath (amongst people with emphysema)
- · Sputum production (especially amongst patients with bronchitis)
- · Wheezing and fever
Some of the advanced symptoms include
- · Bluish discoloration of the lips and nail beds due to lack of oxygen
- · Morning headaches and weight loss
- · Pulmonary hypertension which refers to the heart pumping with greater force due to lack of oxygen reaching parts of the body
- · Coughing up of blood is also another advanced symptom
Since this is a progressive disease, it is vital that if you notice these symptoms, you should immediately get tested, diagnosed and treated to reverse the damage partially.
Lastly, as far as the treatment of this disease is concerned, the following are the steps involved
- · If you are a smoker then you need to quit smoking immediately to prevent rapid deterioration in lung function
- · The next step is to take medications to enlarge the airways and decrease the swelling.
- · You will also need immunization against flu influenza and pneumonia, basically any illness which will affect the lungs
- · Regular supplementation of oxygen is also necessary to try and make the lungs as healthy as possible (known as Oxygen therapy)
- · Pulmonary Rehabilitation
In conclusion, it is most important to know that this disease grows slowly and is not contagious. Many people who suffer from it are most often unaware until it’s too late. Thus, it is necessary to get routine check-ups so that the problem can be nipped in the bud if possible.
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