COPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is a type of disease that affects your lungs mainly. If a person is having COPD, it means it will be difficult for them to breathe.
It is a collection of diseases as it can lead to blocked airways through your lungs. It will make even harder to breathe and can be fatal. It is a progressive disease and currently, there is no known cure for it. We can only prevent it which is far better than the cure. It is characterized on a scale of breathlessness.
As we have discussed it above that breathlessness or shortness of breath and coughing is an ordinary course of life for an aged person. But following symptoms could mean that you have COPD and it is very important that you talk to your healthcare advisor.
The symptoms can vary from person to person but a few of them which are common these days are1:
- Shortness of breath
- Frequent coughing (with or without Mucus)
- Chest tightness
- Frequent respiratory infections
- Lack of energy
Nowadays, tobacco smoking is very normal all around the world and it is the big cause of lung diseases and one of them is COPD. And it also occurs in those who are living in poorly maintained homes and without a proper ventilation system. Burning fumes of cooking, heating and other activities related to it are the causes of this disease in poorly maintained areas.
It works in a way that air flows down through air pipe (trachea). Bypassing through two large tubes it reaches out into the lungs and these tubes are further divided into many small branches like a tree in a tubular form (bronchioles) with the ends like tiny sacs of air (alveoli)2.
Our lungs totally rely on these tubes, tiny sacs, and their natural elasticity to force out the air from your body to make space for the fresh air. COPD causes that it loses their elasticity with the passage of time. It leaves some air trapped in your lungs.
Cigarette smoking is a major cause of COPD. A smoker is more likely to have this disease than a non-smoker. COPD caused by the blockage of lungs is due to long-term smoking.
These are some of the risk factors that vary from person to person. There are some of the risk factors that may be in your control including:
- Tobacco smoke in any form like a cigarette, cigar, pipe, or Shisha can be dangerous and injurious to health which may harm many body parts or can cause cancer. The risk caused by it varies between people as in how much a person consumes or smokes a pack of cigarettes in a single day over the period. If a family has a history of COPD and there is a smoker in it then the risk is even higher for the offspring.
- The studies have shown that if a person has asthma and he smokes, then the risk of developing COPD is high.
- Lung irritants like fumes, chemicals, constant contact with tobacco smoke are fatal for your health, long term exposure to them can also cause COPD.
- Over the course of years, COPD develops in a person but it depends on the circumstances and environment around them. When a person reaches their 40s, the chances of getting diagnosed with COPD are high. Because when we age, we go through many-body structural changes which may be the causes of COPD.
- A younger person or an adult having chronic bronchitis and smokes, then there are higher chances that they will be diagnosed with COPD.
- If a person has a history of severe respiratory infections or damages caused by any incident, it may put them at a higher risk of developing COPD.
It is sometimes a misdiagnosed disease. For example, if a person smokes and they also have some respiratory conditions or short breathing problems, then they might have been told that they have COPD. On the other hand, if a person has developed COPD, then misdiagnosis of it can lead him to a state when it cannot be treated. Some of the diagnoses are stated below make sure to them and contact your health advisor on time. Some of the diagnoses given below may be helpful in making sure that it is the right time to get in touch with your health advisor.
Your doctor will ask about your and your family’s health history to ensure many things and will check signs and symptoms to check whether you have it or not. And will make sure that either you are in any contact with lung irritants like cigarette smoke etc.
- The lung Function Test includes checking how much the amount of air we inhale and exhale during the test and making sure it is the normal amount a person should inhale or exhale. This would also ensure that your lungs are providing enough oxygen to the blood for the proper functioning of the body.
- Chest X-Ray can show us our lung conditions and other organ problems like heart failure etc.
- CT scan of your lungs can also tell the doctor about the thorough conditions of your lungs. And can also determine the conditions for the surgery or not.
- Arterial blood gas analysis is a test used by the doctors to determine how much arterial gases are present. These include oxygen and carbon dioxide etc.
- Laboratory tests of different kinds are not used to diagnose COPD, but to find the causes and symptoms of it.
The diagnosis of COPD conditions is not the end of the world. Some people may have been diagnosed with mild conditions of it. Doctors can treat it in various ways depending upon its intensity.
- We can start by quitting smoking. It is the most essential part of the treatment.
- By taking medications prescribed by the doctors you can treat the symptoms and severe conditions.
- Different lung therapies can be effective in order to make sure that air intake in your lungs is normal and enough oxygen is provided in the blood.
- Surgery can be a solution but in severe cases when medications are not enough.