Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a severe medical condition that affects the lung’s ability to breathe. Chronic inflammation makes it difficult to breathe and function, leading to an increase in mucus. The inflammation, however, has to occur more than once for it to be considered ‘chronic.’
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Causes
One of the leading causes of COPD is smoking tobacco. The smoke inhalation irritates the lung’s airways over long periods, only worsening with time. As the condition worsens, the airways chronically inflame themselves, making breathing difficult. Sometimes, COPD is also caused by inhaling fumes from burning fuel in non-ventilated areas. In these cases, people are forced to breathe in toxic fumes that are damaging (cleaning supplies, gasoline, etc.).
Another cause, although not as common, is Chronic bronchitis. This infection is usually a result of an illness that causes an overabundance of mucus production, leading to a wheeze or wet cough.
Symptoms for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
The leading symptoms that people with COPD experience are:
Although those symptoms are uncomfortable, they can be fatal if they worsen. If you notice any severe effects, you should see a doctor immediately. The lesser common but more severe symptoms of COPS include:
- coughing up blood
- swelling in the throat or chest
- rash on neck
How is COPD Diagnosed?
If the case is not severe, your doctor will likely start with a general physical exam when diagnosing COPD. During this general exam, your doctor will ask many questions about the symptoms, habits, and family history.
Based on responses, they can order tests like Spirometry. The test is non-invasive and one that is frequently used. During this exam, you will blow into a device that calculates the amount of air your lungs can hold. You will likely repeat this test as the symptoms differ in each stage or as they worsen.
Sometimes, the Spirometry is completed alongside a stress test. Your doctor will push you to exercise and do cardio movements to see the capacity of your lungs. They must be healthy as you do everyday tasks and exercise.
If you are going to the hospital with concerning symptoms, likely, your doctor will immediately request a Chest X-ray to observe what is going on in your lungs. This scanning test should find inflammation and irritation in your lungs and chest. It can also be used to rule out underlying conditions and see any obstructions in your heart or lungs.
Treatment Options for You
Usually, people with COPD do not have conditions that are severe and do not need treatment; however, if you do need treatment, you can take medications like:
These medications are commonly prescribed as inhalers that work to help you breathe. This medication releases tension in your airways when there is too much inflammation.
If you are an active smoker, your doctor will recommend you stop to increase your quality of life. This is because your airways will continue to swell and get irritated by the toxic chemical fumes from smoking. They are relatively safe medications as well that work well alongside other medications. These same inhalers are prescribed to people with asthma.
Pulmonary rehabilitation programs
Pulmonary rehabilitation programs are programs or forms of therapy that teach you how to breathe, eat, and make better choices with your new diagnosis. Exercise and education are essential within these programs. They rehabilitate your body and mind to cope with having COPD symptoms daily.
If the damage is too severe, you may need surgery. There are many types of surgical procedures, including lung surgery to replace the lungs or a surgery that takes the damaged parts of your lungs out. They can be dangerous, though, and not everyone qualifies.
Managing the Condition
Since there is no one cure for CPD, the best thing you can do is to manage the condition, your symptoms, and the progression at home. The number one thing you need to focus on is slowing down the progression of the disease.
Since the condition makes it hard to breathe, you can purchase products that clean and purify the air. Most of the time, mucus causes shortness of breath in COPD patients. Humidifiers are a great product to use because they help you breathe better. Humidifiers introduce humidity to the air, which makes it easier to breathe. This humidity can thin out the mucus in your lungs and nasal cavities. The thing about humidifiers, though, is that you do need to place them in a well-ventilated area. Sometimes, too much humidity can cause mold and fungus to develop on the walls.
Another way to manage your COPD at home is to regular exercise. It may be hard to exercise because it makes your heart pump quicker and your lungs work harder, but it can strengthen these organs. Cardio exercise works well to strengthen your organs. However, you should not strain yourself. Always make sure to have enough water for hydration, too, as staying hydrated can relieve built-up mucus.
Since second-hand smoking can cause flare-ups and irritation to your lungs, it is best to stay away from smokers and smoking areas. If you can, avoid these areas. If you are struggling with tobacco addictions, there are many solutions your doctor can tell you about. One solution is nicotine patches that you can use to resist the urge to smoke. Sometimes, doctors will also refer you to a psychologist for further help and resources.
Living with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
In conclusion, COPD is an awful condition that causes various respiratory reactions that makes it hard to breathe. If it goes untreated, the condition can be fatal, and you may require hospitalization.
The leading cause of COPD is heavy smoking. The best way to decrease the chances of developing this condition is to reduce your smoking and stay away from others who do. Even chronic second-hand smoking can cause COPD. The inflammation of your lungs and airways can increase mucus, leading to a loss of voice and breath.
- How severe is COPD? COPD is the 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S. Therefore. It is considered to be a severe and fatal ailment.
- Can an X-ray detect my COPD? An x-ray will most likely only detect your COPD when it has severely progressed!
Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment. Always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!