All you need to know about COPD
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Dr. Taimur Shahzad
COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a disease of lungs. This disease has affected the condition of humans in different ways depending upon the severity of the disease. As this is a very common disease, it can usually harm the lungs in multiple ways including being fatal to the patient including difficulty of breathing.
Types of COPD
COPD is majorly divided into 2 main kinds based on the effect of the disease on the lungs:
- Chronic levels of bronchitis with a cough that lasts for long term and mucus secretion. This involves the inflammation of the lining of the lungs that make it hard for a person to breathe normally every day.
- The other type is emphysema which destroys the condition of lungs over time and can be fatal. This involves the destruction of the alveoli- cells that make up the airbags in the lungs. This is done by smoke and exposure to different gases harmful for the human body.
How it Develops
People who suffer from COPD usually have symptoms of both the types. The main cause of lung disease like COPD is smoking. People who smoke rigorously and constantly have a high chance of gaining COPD as compared to those who are non-smokers. However, in rare cases, smokers for life never develop COPD at all.
People who do not smoke may also develop COPD. This is predominant in people lacking specific protein alpha-1 antitrypsin. Also, people who smoke with an already existing condition of asthma may also develop COPD in their early ages of life.
Some people who have been exposed to different gaseous environments during their life are also highly susceptible lung disease. Those who have COPD are more at risk of developing lung cancer, cardiovascular diseases and other risk factors like pneumonia or lung damage.
Early and Late Warning Signs of COPD
COPD warning signs or main symptoms are a few but can be diagnosed instantly based on the following factors:
- Chest tightness.
- Difficulty in breathing especially when exercising.
- The need to clear your throat first thing in the morning due to large quantities of mucus in the lungs.
- Long term cough that may produce different colors of mucus such as white, green, or yellow.
- Lack of physical energy usually in later stages of the disease.
- Lips or fingernails turning blue overtime.
- Swelling in feet or ankles or sometime in legs.
The above causes of the pulmonary disease may directly lead a patient to diagnosis. There is a chance that some people may have just a bad case of pneumonia or cold cough. However, getting yourself checked for the above symptoms may always be useful in the long term of life. Also, every case of COPD will have a different diagnosis and treatment just like any other patient for any other disease.
COPD is treatable and if carefully diagnosed in time with properly managed medication, a person can easily be completely cured from this lung disease.
Although, it’s not possible to diagnose COPD until some serious damage has already been done to the lungs. However, if the initial symptoms like long term cough and extraordinary mucus production are checked in time, the disease can be fully avoided.
Usually, the initial treatment of COPD is to provide the patient with the facility of breathing normally in their everyday life so that the regular daily activities can be performed without any hesitation. Some of the normally given treatments of COPD are:
- Bronchodilators: Such dilators make it easy for the air to pass onto the lungs by decreasing the swelling around the lining and alveoli. One such example is inhaler that when inhaled for medicine, it directly goes to the lungs. The effect of an inhaler with different medication treatment based on the condition of lungs may last for 4-6 hours every time.
- Use of steroids is another effective way to avoid and minimize the risk factors for COPD. These can be inhaled with a combination of inhaler with normal inhaled medication to have a better and long term effect on the condition of lungs.
It is better to keep a direct check on one’s healthy lifestyle including avoiding smoking. In this regard, constant medical checkup after every 6-8 months, along with awareness from health blogs and health articles may help a lot. It is better to be cautious rather than look for a cure when all else fails.