COPD Means What?

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is defined as narrowing of airways along with obliteration of lung tissues. If a patient has COPD, he usually feels worsening shortness of breath accompanied by sputum production and cough. In addition, chest tightness and wheezing might also be experienced. This is a more serious and complicated disease as compared to asthma because the swelling in the lungs may lead to further compression in the right side of the right. Smoking is the most common cause of this top leading reason of death nowadays and is also the most active contributing factor. It differs from asthma in terms of source since the later is an allergic reaction from environmental elements. Air pollution and increase exposure to dusts and chemicals can also increase risks of developing COPD.

In diagnosing COPD, doctors usually do spirometry which measures presence of obstruction. Aside from the symptoms experienced by the patient, chest X-ray can also confirm presence of COPD, measure the size of the lungs and rule out possible causes.

Lungs with COPD
Left: Normal Lungs, Right: Lungs with COPD. Courtesy: Wikipedia
There is no treatment for COPD that is why prevention is the best remedy. Here are a few things that you can do to prevent and manage the disease.

  • Avoid smoking

If you are a known smoker, quit as early as possible. It may be very challenging at first, but do not lose the courage to quit smoking.

  • Do not worsen the situation

You can prevent or treat symptoms by eliminating risk factors. In addition, oxygen therapy is a big help because it decreases chances of death. Influenza and pneumococcal vaccines are also considered preventive measures.

  • Medicines

There are available bronchodilators and corticosteroids which are inhaled to give relief to COPD. They decrease symptoms and worsening of the disease. Though corticosteroids have no direct relation with COPD, they are helpful when inhaled. In addition, steroids can be taken orally or given intravenously to increase chances of recovery and decrease further complications. Mucolytics and antibiotics are also part of the regimen.

  • Pulmonary rehabilitation
This process not only decreases symptoms but most importantly, gives strength to the muscles of the lungs. This involves counseling and trainings on breathing strategies and energy conserving techniques that gives you extra knowledge on how you can properly deal with COPD. How you manage the disease can also improve your over-all outlook in life and help you reduce chances of mortality. Pulmonary rehabilitation is teamwork between the patient, doctors, nurses, therapists and chest specialist.

  • Oxygen use

Patients with COPD might need oxygen either via cylinder or concentrators. It needs to be administered at least 15-16 hours per day to experience positive changes in one’s ability to exercise. Oxygen use can also decrease risks of developing heart complications.

  • Surgeries

In severe cases of COPD, lung transplant or lung volume reduction is an option however, not all is a candidate for surgery. Tests and examinations need to be done to be qualified for a surgery.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary disease is dangerous and very alarming since it is known to be causing death if neglected. Keeping a healthy lifestyle and quitting smoking and other environmental factors that might possibly escalate risks of developing COPD should be avoided to get rid of all the struggles associated with it.

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