What is COPD?
COPD better understood as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is a disease related to the functioning of the breathing organs or lungs. People who have been diagnosed with this disease tend to have breathing problems due to the blockage of airflow in and out from the lungs. Like most diseases, this one too without exception begins to set in slowly with avoidable problems. But it tends to worsen more and more with time without the proper required precautions and treatment under the supervision of a specialist on a regular basis.
As per the report of a certain journal in 2013, around 13.7 billion citizens of the United States of America were diagnosed with this deadly disease. Even another institution of high repute, the NHLBI (National Heart, Lung, and Blood institute) has come to the conclusion that at least a whopping number of 12 million people have this terrible disease called COPD. This disease is fatal in nature and according to the records of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) this disease is the third major reason of death in the country.
Different types of the disease
This disease can be categorized in two major subdivisions:
- Chronic bronchitis;
Both diseases results in dire respiratory disorder. The lungs contain air sacs which aid us in the process of breathing. These air sacs are medically referred to as alveoli. The alveoli are entirely damaged. The elasticity of these alveoli is entirely lost. Sometimes the alveoli walls rupture and it leads to the reduction in the overall space in the lungs. In simple terms, the lungs start to shrink. This leads to the drop in the level of oxygen passing into the blood stream and also the level of carbon dioxide which can be exhaled. Emphysema also causes severe exhaling problems due to the inability to hold the breathing tubes open while one is breathing out.
In the case of chronic bronchitis, a person’s entire normal breathing process is destroyed. This disease causes the breathing tubes to swell up. This inflammation leads to thickening and the production of excessive mucus. Most of the people with COPD have to undergo the painful effect of both these diseases.
The relation between smoking and COPD
This disease tends to develop at a later age, say above the age of 40, amongst people who share a history with smoking. The stats in the case of this disease prove the fact. According to a study, more than 90 percent of the deaths from COPD shared a history of abuse through smoking. Also about 1 out of six people, records the same census, diagnosed with COPD have never had a single smoking experience in their life. Smoking also causes bronchial asthma which leads in a later age to COPD.
Other factors leading to COPD
- The combustion of biomass items like wood in a closed place (a fireplace in the room) causes severe air pollution within the house one lives.
- When a worker overlooks the safety precautions at a chemical factory
- In case of severe exposure to dust particles
- If a person is diagnosed with asthma at an early age
- Frequent lungs infections during childhood
- Also, severe exposure to passive smoking can lead to COPD
Symptoms of COPD
As mentioned earlier this dangerous fatal disease sets in at a slow rate. And in its beginning stages it is hard enough to identify the symptoms shown by our body. The common symptoms which are often shown by maximum patients are given below.
- In the very start, there occurs a kind of cough generally overlooked as a common cold symptom. But it is the “smokers cough”. In such form of respiratory disorders, it is painful in nature and persistent. It may sometimes contain mucus too.
- Extreme and out of bounds tiredness without any proper reason is another vital symptom signalling towards the fatal disease.
- Continual respiratory infections;
- Some patients experience shortness of breath after mild working. Medically this is referred to as Dyspnea.
- Someone sickened with this might start breathing with a subtle rattling or whistling sound caused from the blockage in the air passage.
- This in some cases cause chest tightness;
- The lips or the fingernail beds might tend to turn bluish. This particular blueness of the skin is termed cyanosis and is caused by COPD.
- People with acute COPD at severe stages tend to lose weight at a fast rate.
- Loss of sleep or insomnia might also be caused through COPD.
The pathway to healing
A person who will be diagnosed with the fatal disease of COPD will initially be immediately subjected to a series of tests in the lab. These examinations will chiefly be based on the particular patient’s medical related history and his or her symptoms. In the next stage, it will be evaluated that how much air can be exhaled by the concerned patient at a time. This will be done with the help of a device known as the spirometry. The test is a lung function examination where the respective patients have to blow into the tube which will in turn be connected to the spirometer. This machine will now measure both the amount of the air and the speed in which the concerned patient is breathing it out.
Then the patient will be subjected to a chest x-ray or CT (Computerized tomography) scans. After this, an arterial blood gas test will be conducted. These tests will conclude about the quantity of carbon dioxide and oxygen which is getting into the blood from the artery. The hard truth is that there is still no cure for COPD within the bounds of medical science. The treatment looks to provide relief and prevent further deterioration of the patient through negligence.
Following is a set of path which should be followed by a person diagnosed with COPD
- One must quit smoking and also avoid circumstances that might lead to passive smoking
- Try to keep the airways open through the aid of inhalers or medically referred to as bronchodilators.
- Try and reduce inflammation through the ingestion or inhalation of steroid-related medicines.
- Learn the process of more efficient breathing by going through pulmonary rehabilitation
- A person also might undergo oxygen therapy. In this process, oxygen is supplied to the lungs with the aid of an air tank.
If you were completely clueless about what is COPD, here are perhaps all the possible information to keep you well informed about the signs of respiratory symptoms of respiratory disorders or bronchial asthma, and how you can deal with it at ease. So, keep in mind these factors and ensure that safety for your lungs!