Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
What is COPD?

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is one of the frequently occurring lung problems that are characterized by difficulty in breathing. It is of two main forms, Persistent Bronchitis in which there will be long term cough along with the mucus and Emphysema in which damage to the lungs occur over a period of time. People who have COPD presents with both the forms.

Reason for COPD:
  • It mainly affects people who are a chain smoker and in few people who lack alpha 1- antitrypsin protein is diagnosed with emphysema.
  • Certain gases present in the work environment are likely to cause COPD.
  • People who are exposed to large amounts of pollution.
  • People who are exposed to cooking fire most frequently without appropriate aeration.
Signs of COPD:

As Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD) will progress slowly, patients will not show any signs at the beginning stage.

  • Severe coughing presenting with or without mucus
  • Tiredness
  • Recurrent lung infections
  • Breathing difficulty which gets worse with activity
  • Wheezing problem
  • Lip and finger nails will turn blue color
How COPD is diagnosed?
  • The doctor may evaluate you in person and using stethoscope he might listen to your lungs and look for abnormality.
  • Spirometry will be advised by your doctor. It is test done to see the functioning of the lung and it involves blowing out through the small machine as much as possible and it will measure the lung capacity.
  • X-ray and CT scans can be taken to view the lungs. In few cases of COPD, the lungs may appear normal during the chest X-ray.
  • ‘Arterial Blood Gas’ a particular blood test is performed to evaluate the extent of oxygen and carbon dioxide present in the blood.
How COPD is treated?

There is no complete cure for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD). But it can be managed to relieve the symptoms and also slow down the progression of the disease.

  • Smoking should be stopped first, if the person is a smoker. It may slow down the progress of the disease.
  • Broncho dilators are used to release the airways that have been blocked.
  • To reduce the inflammation of the lung, oral steroids are taken.
  • The swelling of the airways is reduced by taking anti-inflammatory drugs.

In chronic cases or during flare-ups you may need to take,

  • Steroids which is taken either orally or through intravenously.
  • Nebulization along Broncho dilating drugs can be used to expand the bronchi.
  • Oxygen therapy
  • Breathing with the support of the machine when inhalation becomes difficult, through BiPAP and endotracheal tube.
  • Antibiotics, as infections can occur during flare-ups
  • Having pulmonary rehabilitation could make you active as it helps to control breathing.
  • Surgery may be advised in some rare cases especially to remove the diseased part in emphysema.
  • Transplant of lung in few rare cases are recommended.
How to cope up with COPD?

There are certain activities which can be done daily to protect your lungs and stay active.

  • You can get advice from your doctor on the distance you can walk and slowly raise the distance day by day. But if you have breathing problems then you need to stop. You can follow pursed lip breathing to blow out before taking the next breathe.
  • You should stay away from cold air
  • No one should smoke in the home
  • Avoid place which has fire smoke and other irritants
  • Try eating healthy foods like fish, meat and fruits and vegetables which will have high calories.
Other complications associated with COPD:
  • Heart beat which is irregular (arrhythmia)
  • Machine assistance for breathing and oxygen therapy
  • Infections such as pneumonia, etc can occur
  • Severe loss in weight and undernourishment
  • Osteoporosis (lessening of bones)
  • Debilitation

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