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What Exactly Is A Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)?


The airflow in our lungs is obstructed by a chronic lung illness known as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD. This is by far the most complicated respiratory condition that is currently incurable. Breathing issues, coughing fits, wheezing, and mucus (sputum) production can all be symptoms of the disease. In this situation, the coughing is typically a smoker’s cough. Smoking, prolonged exposure to particulate matter, and lung irritants are the three leading causes of increased COPD occurrences. Not only that, but those with COPD also have a significant risk of getting lung cancer or heart disease. When it comes to COPD, suffering indeed enjoys company.

Emphysema and Chronic Bronchitis, two separate illnesses, are combined to form COPD. For the situation to spiral out of control and develop into COPD, both of these conditions must exist. Although they frequently coexist, the severity of these two disorders varies across COPD patients. Think of them as the sidekicks of the bad guy.

2. Emphysema

In this instance, exposure to cigarette smoke, particulate matter, and other irritants nearly result in death and results in the destruction of the lungs’ alveoli.

The disease COPD progresses with time. The situation rarely gets better and usually worsens over time. To that end, COPD is treatable. Most people can control their symptoms and improve their health with the right guidance.

How Does COPD Differ From Asthma?

It has been noted that having Asthma as a child increases your risk of developing COPD as an adult. While many kids outgrow their asthma, occasionally their lungs don’t develop or function properly. Youngsters with persistent childhood asthma, or children who experience breathing issues almost daily, are affected by this. This results in a reduction in lung capacity and constrained lung development in young people.

Both COPD and asthma have symptoms in common and both obstruct your airways. However, the main distinction is that breathing issues and chest discomfort are persistent with asthma. While the symptoms of COPD are more persistent and include coughing spells that produce copious amounts of mucus. Asthma can be treated with medicines in cases of flare-ups, but COPD cannot. Although both are serious respiratory diseases, COPD is more difficult to recover from.

Causes Of COPD

An obstruction in the airways causes COPD. What creates these obstructions is the root of the problem. In a healthy adult, two sizable structures known as bronchi allow air to pass from the trachea into the lungs. Smaller tubes emerge from these larger ones to form alveoli, which are microscopic air sacs. The alveoli’s thin walls are packed with capillaries. Your bloodstream receives the oxygen you breathe in via capillaries. Carbon Dioxide is similarly expelled during the opposite flow. The tubes must have natural flexibility for the exchange of Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide to be carried out correctly. However, if you have COPD, they overexpand, and every time you exhale, the air becomes stuck in the lungs. Here are the main causes of COPD, although chronic exposure to tobacco is the principal factor robbing bronchial tubes of their elasticity:

1. Smoke Exposure

People who are exposed to fumes in industrial settings, such as blast furnaces or other locations where there is exposure to fumes and aerosols, develop COPD. This can also be seen indoors when residences with insufficient ventilation burn fuel for heating and cooking.

2. Smoking Cigarettes

Tobacco use is directly responsible for COPD. In this instance, the patients directly inhale the smoke over time. The more the patient smokes after COPD symptoms begin to appear, the more lethal the condition gets. Chain smokers experience specific issues or weakened lung function, which could lead to a COPD diagnosis being made incorrectly.

3. Congenital Causes

Additionally, reduced lung function may be inherited. This translates to the person developing these problems at the first sign of worry. These problems can even be brought on by passive smoking. Therefore, people must employ as much prevention as they can and pay greater attention to their daily lives. One such congenital cause is a lack of alpha-1-antitrypsin. Disorders of the liver and lungs can result from a lack of this protein.

Symptoms Of COPD

Contrary to most fatal illnesses, COPD has extremely noticeable and distinguishable symptoms. But they don’t show up until the harm has been done too deeply. Making a personalized treatment plan is made simpler by being able to recognize these symptoms. Signs and symptoms include:

1. Shortness Of Breath

When engaging in physical activity, it is concerning if one notices unexpectedly that they are quickly running out of breath.

2. Wheezing

Wheezing is a common sign of COPD. These are the sounds that breathing causes. Breathing that is typically loud and high-pitched, especially while exhaling.

3. Chest Tightness

Shortness of breath is a feeling that goes along with it. Chest constriction is a sign that the ailment is worsening and that one needs to get tested for COPD.

4. Mucus Production

Sputum production during each episode of a chronic coughing attack. It could be bright white, yellow, or somewhat green.

5. Frequent Respiratory Infections

Respiratory infections frequently surface when the inner lungs are damaged. This is the body’s signal that there may be more serious issues.

6. Lack Of Energy

There is an emergence of exhaustion and sluggishness as a result of the aforementioned symptoms. Breathing comfortably requires extra effort, which exhausts the patient and makes them less capable of other procedures.

7. Sudden Unintended Weight Loss

The body will experience a dramatic loss of weight if the sickness is advanced since all of its energy is being used to combat it.

Exacerbations, in which the symptoms increase and last for many days, is also experienced by COPD patients. Patients’ lips and nail beds begin to turn blue in the worst scenarios. One needs to get to the hospital right away because this is an emergency signal.

COPD Diagnosis And Evaluation

Do you need to see a doctor soon? Once any of the aforementioned symptoms first appear and do not get better with medication or other treatments. One or more of the following tests may be recommended by the pulmonologist:

  1. Lung (Pulmonary) Function Test (PFT)
  2. Spirometry Test
  3. Treadmill Test
  4. Pulse Oximetry Test
  5. Chest X-Ray
  6. CT Scan

It is possible to perform additional pathological tests, the results of which will help determine how severe the illness is. The COPD patient can be divided into 4 stages based on the reports:

  1. Stage I (Early)
  2. Stage II (Moderate)
  3. Stage III (Severe)
  4. Stage IV (Very Severe)

COPD Treatment & Management

COPD is treatable. Effective treatment helps manage problems and exacerbations, decreases disease progression, and generally enhances your quality of life. Quitting smoking is the first step. The better your chances are of managing COPD, the more oxygen gets into your body. Medication is the next action. In addition to antibiotics, other types of medicines are used to treat COPD, including

1. Bronchodilators

They are often inhaled to relax the muscles in your airways, which reduces coughing and shortness of breath.

2. Inhaled Steroids

These work well to lessen inflammation in the airways and stop exacerbations. These work best when used as an inhaler for those who experience frequent exacerbations.

3. Phosphodiesterase-4 Inhibitors

When used by those with severe COPD and chronic bronchitis, this medication lowers inflammation.

Other methods for treating COPD in persons at various stages include lung treatments, oxygen therapy, and breathing exercises.

In conclusion, your lungs depend on how well you maintain them. You may not only ensure that the lungs are in excellent form with more oxygen and good habits, but you can also easily distribute the vital oxygen throughout your body. However, it is advised to contact a qualified pulmonologist at the Kothari Medical Centre and get yourself evaluated for COPD if you are prone to lung infections and can’t break your smoking habit. Make an appointment right away.

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