How Does COPD Affect Life? Can You Live A Long Life With COPD?

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The lungs are one of the most important organs in our body. Not only because they are very sensitive but also because they serve important functions in the body like breathing and filtering dust particles. In today’s circumstances,  the chances of developing a pulmonary disorder have gained a lot of traction.

This could be due to the pollution that has clouded most of the cities. Additionally, the cutting of trees has made it impossible to filter oxygen which puts extra pressure on the lungs. This article will discuss the disease of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Problems including the symptoms and causes, diagnosis and tests as well as prevention.

What Is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease(COPD)? How Common Is COPD?

COPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is a disorder that affects the pulmonary system. As its name suggests, it is a disease that is caused when one’s airway passages get restricted. This makes it difficult to breathe in and breathe out. Additionally, people with COPD frequently go out of breath as the functioning of their system is not optimum.

COPD

Chronic bronchitis and Emphysema are the two main culprits behind the disease. The former is problems found in the bronchi or small sac-like structures on the side of the lungs while the latter leads to trapping of air in the lungs. Both of these together can lead to COPD and have multiple causes as well.

Symptoms And Causes Of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

 Multiple symptoms of COPD can help you distinguish the disease as early detection is key:

  • Difficulty in breathing- People with COPD may find it difficult to breathe during easy tasks. This could just mean doing chores that require minimum effort with great difficulty.
  • Chronic cough- You will have a persistent cough that can’t be treated with any medications. You might also feel the tendency to cough during sleeping making it impossible to take a nap.
  • Wheezing- It is the whistling sounds one makes while breathing. Usually found in elderly patients, wheezing might affect you if you have chronic inflammation in your lungs.
  • Chest tightness- This means difficulty when inhaling and exhaling. It could begin as a constriction and gradually progress to tightness.

The causes of COPD include:

  • Smoking-  It is known that nicotine can damage the areolas. However, the smoke can also destroy the bronchis as well as the lung tissues. This is why it restricts the passage of air.
  • Lung irritants- Our lungs are capable of breathing through most things but a long time of exposure to dirt, dust, and polluted air could be the reason why you develop COPD in the later stages of your life.
  • Genetic factors- Genetic factors also play a major role when determining the existence of pulmonary disorders in people. You should be looking at your family history closer.

Diagnosis And Tests Of COPD

There are multiple ways to understand the implications of long-term exposure to various irritants. As you suffer from the symptoms, you could be subjected to a detailed medical history examination. You would also be asked to discuss your work environment along with your traveling route to understand the reasons. Additionally, spirometry is a test given to the patient to understand the intensity of respiration. 

Diagnosis Of COPD

Inhalation and exhalation are measured and then a wave is formed. Thirdly, a chest X-ray or CT scan is to get a clear picture of the lungs and pinpoint the obstruction. However, when these are confirmed, patients are also given arterial blood gas tests. During this test, the gas in the blood is tested. This includes carbon dioxide and Oxygen.

Management And Treatment Of COPD

Regardless of this, it is still possible to manage the disease and treat it in the right way. You could do this by:

1. smoking cessation– This is as simple as it seems. If you are a chain smoker, you must stop smoking instantly. If you are exposed to second-hand smoke,  you should change the environment immediately.

2. Medications– As an obvious course of action, bronchodilators and corticosteroids are prescribed to help with the inflammation.

3. Pulmonary rehab– This includes a set of exercises, diets, and proper hydration which can help relax the muscles in the lungs.

4. Oxygen therapy– Patients with COPD find it difficult to get enough oxygen and that is why are given oxygen through a machine.

5. Long Volume reduction surgery– It is a surgery that could help reduce the damage caused by tissue by removing it.

Prevention Of COPD

Prevention Of COPD

One might believe that preventing COPD is a mammoth task but it is not. All you have to do is take care of certain crucial things that are:

1. Quit smokingSmoking should be a no-no. It can be both secondary or primary. Smoking can cause a lot of damage to the tissue of the lungs that are further accentuated when nicotine is continuously pumped into the airways.

2. Reduce exposure to irritants– People who are in the construction business or dust-related jobs could be exposing themselves to constant danger. If you are in such a line of work, you should wear protective gear including masks and hazmat suits. In case, you are in a pollutant risk area, you should always try to avoid peak times of traffic. Using an N-95 mask can be extremely helpful.

3. Vaccinations– Respiratory infections could be caused due to multiple causes. Each time it happens, your lungs could become weak. So you consider taking vaccinations for influenza and pneumonia.

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Final Thoughts

Chronic Pulmonary disorder includes a variety of respiratory infections that make it difficult for the patient to take a breath. Its symptoms can be easily misconstrued as that of a common cold but if this situation persists you might want to consult a doctor and take necessary precautions.

Apart from changes in your environment, medications such as nebulizers and inhalers could help you manage the condition. However, you should keep it with you at all times. Make sure you stay away from the sources that irritate the lungs.  Some allergic medications can also destroy your lung capacity and that is why you should include a balanced diet and exercise to increase stamina.

References:

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). (https://www.cdc.gov/copd/index.html) Accessed 11/29/2021.
  2. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2020). COPD.
    https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/copd/symptoms-causes/syc-20353679
  3. COPD. (n.d.).
    https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/copd

Dr. David G Kiely is a distinguished Medical Reviewer and former General Medicine Consultant with a wealth of experience in the field. Dr. Kiely's notable career as a General Medicine Consultant highlights his significant contributions to the medical field.

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