Cardiology

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Description

Chronic Obstructive pulmonary disease is one of the most common lung disorders that makes the person hard to breathe due to narrowing of the airways that passes the air through the lungs. The main cause of this condition is the excessive use of smoking over the years. There are generally two forms of COPD:

  • Chronic bronchitis: A lung condition where the air passage gets inflamed and begin producing lots of mucus, which narrows the airways and makes it hard for the person to breathe.
  • Emphysema: This lung condition damages the air sacs in the lungs, which aid in breathing. These air sacs changes their size in proportion to person’s breathing. However, this ability of their’s is lost due to emphysema and makes the person uncomfortable breathing.

Smoking is the main cause of COPD as tobacco irritates and damage the airways and destroys the air sacs in the lungs. Secondhand smoke can also damage the lungs. Other risk factors include inhaling chemical fumes, dust and air pollution for long. Family history of alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency can also contribute to the condition.

Symptoms usually can’t be seen in early stage and it can take a long time for symptoms to be visible. The most common symptoms of COPD are:

  • Chronic cough that lasts longer
  • Persistence mucus that comes up when you cough
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Trouble doing simple activities due to shortness of breath
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss

Diagnosis

COPD cannot be treated, but symptoms can be slowed down, which prevent further damage once it is diagnosed. It is necessary that the condition is diagnosed at an early stage. To find out if you are suffering from COPD, the doctor can perform several tests, such as:

  • Physical exam and listening to your lungs
  • Examining the symptoms you are experiencing
  • Breathing tests such as spirometry
  • Chest x-ray
  • Blood tests
  • ECG
  • Blood oxygen level
  • CT scan

Treatment of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Once it is confirmed that you are diagnosed with COPD, the doctor will take necessary steps to slow down the deterioration of your lungs. The damage occurred to your lungs won’t be reversed back.

  • The first advice is to stop smoking. It is never too late to quit it, no matter how much damage your lungs have received. The main goal of the treatment would be to relieve you from symptoms and slow down the growth of the disease.
  • Moreover, the doctor will prescribe some medications such as bronchodilators to you that will help you breathe easier. Most of these medicines are inhaled, which directly goes to your lungs.
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation: It is a program that will help you improve your lifestyle and breathing issues. This therapy provided by doctors, physical therapists, respiratory therapists and nurses includes exercise programs, nutritional and psychological counseling, disaster management training.
  • Oxygen therapy: COPD can cause low levels of oxygen in the blood that results in breathing difficulty. Oxygen therapy improves oxygen levels in the blood by fulfilling the deficiency through nasal prongs or a mask. This is an effective procedure for people with severe COPD and help them perform daily tasks easily and live long and comfortable life.
  • Surgery: Surgery can be performed to treat severe lung damage. Lung volume reduction surgery removes the damaged tissues from the lungs and lung transplant is the replacement of the damaged lung with a healthy one provided by a deceased donor. Bullectomy is another surgical method to cure COPD where bullae (large air spaces) that are formed due to damage to air sacs are removed.

Complications

COPD treatment has some mild or serious complications that vary from patient to patient and the severity of the condition. These complications are:

  • Abnormal weight gain or weight loss
  • Diabetes
  • Infection
  • Cataracts
  • Osteoporosis
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased heartbeat or tremors
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Allergic reaction such as swelling or rash

Post operative care

After treatment for COPD never stops until your last breath. You will require to follow the advice of your doctor.

Avoid those things that irritates your lungs, such as air pollution and smoking.

Use air fillers at home and perform regular exercise to improve your breathing.

Eat a nutritional diet and try to live as healthy life as possible.

Avoid viral, parasitic, bacterial and other types of infections.

Visit your doctor regularly to avoid any complications and emergency situations.

If you experience a sudden change in your weight, notify your doctor and dietician.