COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is a lung condition that causes shortness of breath and a persistent cough. Although this progressive lung disorder has no cure, it may be treated (and its progression slowed) by following appropriate measures and working closely with your doctor. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the most frequent of these disorders. Both of these disorders are common in patients with COPD. Emphysema causes outward airflow to be obstructed by the gradual destruction of air sacs in the lungs. Bronchitis is characterised by inflammation and constriction of the bronchial passages, allowing mucus to accumulate. COPD, if left untreated, can lead to quicker disease progression, cardiac difficulties, and severe respiratory infections.
Types of COPD
COPD includes two main types:
- Chronic bronchitis
Symptoms of COPD
COPD makes breathing difficult. At first, the symptoms may be mild, with occasional coughing and shortness of breath. Symptoms might grow more consistent as time goes on, making breathing extremely difficult.
Early symptoms of COPD
COPD symptoms might be quite mild at first. They might be mistaken for a cold. It involves
- shortness of breath on occasion, especially after exertion.
- Cough that is mild but recurring
- Frequently clearing your throat, particularly first thing in the morning
Symptoms might become increasingly severe and difficult to ignore. You may have symptoms as your lungs get increasingly damaged.
- Even mild forms of exercise, such as going up a flight of stairs, can cause shortness of breath.
- Wheezing is a form of higher-pitched loud breathing that occurs often during exercise.
- Tightness in the chest
- Coughing for a long time, with or without mucous
- Need to clear mucus from your lungs every day
- Colds, flu, or other respiratory diseases on a regular basis
- Energy deficiency
In later stages of COPD, symptoms may also include:
When To See The Doctor?
You must visit a doctor if you start experiencing severe symptoms of the condition. However, visiting the doctor with early onset of the disease will help you get the right treatment on time, avoiding the risk of it getting more complicated.
Sine it can be difficult to diagnose since it matches characteristics of other diseases, a specialist can help you in obtaining the correct diagnosis. A doctor with further expertise in lung issues can assist you in determining the best course of action. Some pulmonologists specialize in the treatment of COPD specifically. Other health care experts, including respiratory therapists and educators, might be recommended by a pulmonologist to help with your treatment.
The Pulmonologists at Medicover Hospital can help you get the right treatment for any lung infections or conditions like COPD.
Causes of COPD
The majority of people with COPD are at least 40 years old or have a history of smoking. The longer people smoke and the more tobacco products people consume, the more likely they develop COPD. In addition to cigarette smoking, COPD can be caused by cigar smoke, pipe smoke, and secondhand smoke. If you smoke and have asthma, your chances of developing COPD are significantly higher.
Environmental factors for COPD:
- Passive smoking
- Indoor cooking with poor ventilation
- Air pollution
- Exposure to chemicals
- Exposure to industrial dust and fumes
- Intravenous drug abuse
- Infections, such as HIV
- Genetic disorders, such as Marfan syndrome and alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency
COPD has a number of risks, including
This is the most significant risk factor. COPD affects up to 75% of those who smoke or are used to smoking.
To additional lung irritants from the environment or workplace, such as secondhand smoking, air pollution, chemical fumes, and dust.
When COPD symptoms first appear, most patients are at least 40 years old.
This covers the hereditary disorder alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. Smokers who develop COPD are also more prone to do so if they have a family history of the disease.
Asthmatics are more likely to acquire COPD than persons who do not have asthma. However, most asthmatics do not get COPD.
COPD can lead to a variety of additional health issues, including:
Colds, the flu, and pneumonia can all be exacerbated by COPD. They make breathing more difficult and increase the risk of lung injury. An annual flu shot and pneumonia immunizations can help.
COPD can increase your risk of heart disease, including heart attack, for reasons that doctors don't fully understand. Quitting smoking may reduce your chances.
COPD patients are more prone to getting lung cancer. Smoking cessation can assist.
High blood pressure in lung arteries:
COPD can cause blood pressure to rise in the arteries that supply blood to the lungs. This is referred to as pulmonary hypertension by your doctor.
Trouble breathing can stop you from doing things you like living with a chronic condition can sometimes contribute to depression. If you are unhappy, powerless, or believe you may be depressed, contact your doctor.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, your medical history, and whether you smoke or have been exposed to chemicals, dust, or smoke at work. They’ll also do a physical exam and breathing tests. Let them know if you have an ongoing cough.
The most common test is called spirometry. You’ll breathe into a large, flexible tube that’s connected to a machine called a spirometer. It’ll measure how much air your lungs can hold and how fast you can blow air out of them. Your doctor may order other tests to rule out other lung problems, such as asthma or heart failure. These might include.
- More lung function tests
- Chest X-rays that can help rule out emphysema, other lung problems, or heart failure
- CT scan, which uses several X-rays to create a detailed picture of your lungs and can tell the doctor if you need surgery or if you have lung cancer
- Arterial blood gas test, which measures how well your lungs are bringing in oxygen and taking out carbon dioxide
- Laboratory tests to determine the cause of your symptoms or rule out other conditions, like the genetic disorder alpha-1-antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency
Because there is no cure, the purpose of treatment is to alleviate the symptoms and slow the progression of the condition. In addition, the doctor will work to prevent or treat any other complication and improve the overall quality of life. Giving up smoking is one of the best things you can do to keep your COPD from worsening.
The medical treatment includes:
- Bronchodilators: These medications are inhaled. They aid in the opening of your airways.
- Corticosteroids: These medications help to minimise airway inflammation. They might be inhaled or taken as tablets.
- Combination inhalers: Steroids and a bronchodilator are included in these inhalers.
- Antibiotics: These may be prescribed by the doctor to treat bacterial infections.
- Roflumilast(Daliresp): This medication inhibits an enzyme known as PDE4. It prevents flare-ups in persons with COPD who also have chronic bronchitis.
- Flu or pneumonia vaccines: These immunizations reduce the risk of respiratory infections such as COVID-19.
- Pulmonary rehabilitation: To help you stay as healthy and active as possible, this programme combines exercise, illness management, and counselling.
- Oxygen therapy: You may require this to alleviate shortness of breath, protect your organs, and improve your overall quality of life.
In severe cases of COPD, your doctor may suggest
- Bullectomy: Removes bullae, large air spaces that form when air sacs collapse
- Lung volume reduction surgery: Removes diseased lung tissue
- Lung transplant: Replaces a diseased lung with a healthy one
Lifestyle Changes and Self-Care
Certain lifestyle changes may also help alleviate your symptoms or provide relief.
- Stop smoking
- Avoid possible smoke, fumes, dust, and air pollution.
- Take your medications exactly as prescribed.
- Get regular checkups.
- Perform breathing exercises.
- Walk or do other mild workouts.
- Maintain a nutritious diet.
- To help clean your lungs, try controlled coughing, drinking plenty of water, and using a humidifier.
- Counseling or a support group might provide emotional assistance.
Dos and Don’ts
Living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is stressful, but you may manage the condition and still enjoy life by following a few steps. So, by adhering to these do's and don'ts, you can avoid the negative repercussions. The guidelines are as follows:
|Maintain a healthy weight||Forget your inhaler|
|Exercise regularly|| Stop treatment|
|Use a humidifier||Take over-the-counter cough medicine |
|Practice breathing exercises||Expose yourself to pollutants|
|Stop smoking||Eat unhealthy foods|
Manage the symptoms of COPD and lead a healhty life. Seek timely treatment and keep following-up with your doctor for better monitoring of your condition.
COPD Care at Medicover
At Medicover, we have the best team of Pulmonologists who provide the most comprehensive Pulmonology care and management. To treat various lung problems and disorders, our experts use the most advanced diagnostic methods and latest technology for accurate diagnosis and timely initiation of the treatment. Our experts work closely with the patients to monitor their health and treatment progress in order to achieve a faster and more sustained recovery.