Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a long-term lung disease that makes it hard to breathe. It is an inflammatory lung disease that is caused by damage to the lungs. COPD is often caused by smoking for a long time, which irritates the airways and breaks down the fibers in the lungs. Most of the time, it takes years of damage to the lungs before symptoms show up, and most people are diagnosed when they are in their sixties. Smoking, breathing in chemical fumes, dust, air pollution, and secondhand smoke are all things that can put you at risk.
People often get COPD from smoking or from being around people who do. Over time, the smoke from cigarettes irritates the bronchial tubes and damages the elastic fibers that allow the lungs to expand and contract when you breathe. COPD gets worse over time, and most people are diagnosed with it after they turn forty.
COPD can also be caused by dust and chemicals at work, secondhand smoke, wood smoke, frequent lung infections as a child, cooking with biomass fuels, and genetics, such as a lack of alpha-1 antitrypsin.
COPD Signs and Symptoms
COPD symptoms usually show up after the lungs have been severely damaged, and the symptoms get worse if the person continues to smoke. COPD causes wheezing, a tight chest, a cough that doesn't go away and may make mucus, repeated respiratory infections, a lack of energy, and shortness of breath, especially when doing anything physical.
As COPD gets worse, it can cause other symptoms like sudden weight loss, cyanosis, and swelling in the ankles, feet, or legs. Exacerbations can also happen, which means that a person's symptoms get worse for a few days at a time.
To figure out if someone has COPD, a doctor will look at their signs and symptoms, talk to them about their family and medical history, and ask if they've been exposed to any irritants. COPD can be found by ordering a number of tests. The pulmonary function test is one of the most common tests. It measures how much air the lungs can hold and how fast they can let it out. Other tests include chest x-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, and an arterial blood gas analysis, which measures how well the lungs get oxygen into the blood and get rid of carbon dioxide.
How to Treat and Prevent
The best way to treat and prevent COPD is to stop smoking right away. This is also the only way to stop COPD from getting worse. COPD symptoms can be treated with a lot of different medicines, like bronchodilator inhalers, steroid inhalers, combination inhalers, oral steroids, and antibiotics.
There are also oxygen therapy and pulmonary rehabilitation programs that can help. If a person doesn't have enough oxygen in their blood, they may need oxygen therapy. Most people only need extra oxygen when they are working out or when they are sleeping. Pulmonary rehabilitation programs help improve the overall quality of life by combining exercise, advice on what to eat, and counseling with experts. If COPD gets bad enough that medicines can't help, surgery may be an option.
People with COPD may be able to live better by making changes to their lifestyle and using home remedies. When you have COPD and have stopped smoking, the most important thing to do is to stay away from smoke, air pollution, and other irritants. It's also important to start eating well and get regular exercise. Another way to deal with COPD is to learn how to breathe and relax better so you can breathe better all day long.
Aside from all the different kinds of lifestyle changes, it is also important to see a doctor regularly to check on lung function. A doctor might be able to tell you if you need to take nutritional supplements and show you some breathing exercises.
COPD can be treated and prevented in the first place by giving up smoking. But there are many ways to stop smoking. The most common way for people to stop smoking is to quit all at once, without any help, therapy, or medicine. However, this is not the most effective way, and there are many ways to get help for people who need it.
If you want to stop smoking, behavioral therapy with a counselor can help you figure out what makes you want to smoke and make a plan to stop the cravings. Nicotine replacements come in the form of gum, patches, inhalers, sprays, and lozenges. These help the patient slowly cut back on nicotine until they don't need it anymore.
In the worst case, a person may want to talk to a doctor about the possibility of using prescription drugs to help with withdrawal and cravings. But medicines can have side effects and cause symptoms.