COPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is the name of a group of progressive lung diseases. The most common illnesses that are associated with COPD are chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Sometimes, one person can be affected with both these diseases.
Emphysema is an illness that gradually destroys the air sack in the pulmonary system, which cause difficulty with the outward airflow from the lungs. Bronchitis on the other hand is an illness that causes narrowing and inflammation of the bronchial tubes, which allows mucus to build up in the airway.
COPD patients often find it’s harder to breath. Although the symptoms of COPD may be mild in the beginning with just coughing and shortness of breath, but as the disease progresses patients suffering from COPD find increasing difficulty in breathing.
Patients affected by this malady experience tightness in their chest along with symptoms like wheezing.
One of the major reasons for developing this disease is smoking. Prolonged exposure to chemical irritants and other harmful external agents like toxic gases can also lead to COPD. Nevertheless, COPD is an ailment that takes pretty long to develop in the patients suffering from this acute respiratory malady.
Diagnosis of COPD is usually done by imaging, blood tests and also LFT (lung Function Test).
There is hardly any cure for this disease. But there are certain treatments that can help to ease the symptoms of this illness and lowers the chances of complications which in turn generally improves the quality of life of the COPD patients.
However, it must be also remembered, if left untreated COPD can lead to severe heart ailments and also worsening respiratory infections in the patients.There are several people all across the globe, who in spite of having this disease are unaware of its presence in their body.To slow the progress of this disease, it’s best to consult a pulmonologist (lung specialist) or a respiratory therapist.
Medications that helps in relaxing the muscles of the airway, such as bronchodilators are generally prescribed to the patients suffering from this disease. Bronchodilator medicines are usually inhaled. Glucocorticosteroids are also at times prescribed to the patients for reducing inflammation in their airway tract.Other than these oxygen therapy is also recommended to the patients along with pneumococcal vaccine and an annual dose of flu shots.
When medicines fails to bring comfort in some of the COPD patients, surgery is performed in severe COPD cases, when all other treatments have failed. Surgery like bellectomy is mostly done on COPD patients when they develop a condition known as emphysema, which absolutely destroys the patient’s air sacs.
Stages of COPD are not only analyzed by its severity but also symptoms associated with the stage. The seriousness of the symptoms in the case of COPD is determined by a grading system called ""GOLD"". So as per the GOLD grading system, there are 4 stages of COPD:
Also known as the initial stage, patients in this stage do not show any symptoms. Most of the cases are not even aware of the medical condition at this point or confuse it with a general cough. In case a patient shows level one in a spirometry test with the FEV1 is between 80 and 100, then it is considered as COPD stage 1.
At this stage, the cough gets persistent and worse that it may hamper your daily life. For starters, it can cause shortness of breath during daily life activities. At this stage, the FEV1 is between 50 and 79.
The symptoms at this stage get more serious, you are not able to do household chores without feeling tired or drowsy. The cough is more frequent and flare-up episodes are more severe. At this stage, the FEV1 is between 30 and 50, followed by additional symptoms which include:
The very last and serious stages of all, the symptoms may cause critical medical conditions of lung or heart failure. You may feel breathless even at the state of rest as the oxygen level in your blood is below normal. At this stage, the FEV1 is below 30% which is considered fatal.
One of the common causes due to which COPD develops in an individual is tobacco smoking. Prolonged exposure to smoke and external irritants present in the cigarette can weaken your respiratory system causing swelling, and thinning of the air passage.
However, research has also shown that non-smokers can also develop COPD. An individual environment can be very crucial in terms of health and the development of medical conditions.
If your environment or daily life routine involves places with high smoke, dust, chemical fumes, etc. It is quite possible that you develop non-smoking COPD.
Since early stages of COPD do not show any warning signs, there are no symptoms or medical conditions that can help an individual detect it with a medical diagnosis. Yet there are some symptoms that may occur in stages two and three which can determine the presence:
Studies have found out that physical exercise will help in better flow of oxygen in your body during COPD. Mild physical exercises like walking ( two to three miles per day) will lower the risk of exacerbation.
On the other hand, some studies have also found that walking Beyond your capacity may also lead to flare-ups and in serious cases severe lung damage.
Consumables that are harming in case of COPD are:
Sodium is one of the key components that will help regulate your blood flow. Excess salt in the diet may soak up the water making your respiratory system dry, which further makes it difficult to pass a breath.
Fermented carbs. fruits like peaches, apricots, and melons may make you feel gassy. In the case of vegetables, consumables like onions, beans, leeks, peas, cauliflower, soybean, etc. do the same. Excess bloating can cause breathing difficulties in the case of COPD.
Patients with mucus cough often feel a flare after consuming dairy products. Although it is not the case with everyone, one can consume that if they feel fine.
Caffeinated products like coffee, chocolate, etc. may negate the effects of medication that you may take to reduce cough.
Excess oil and spice in fast foods. It irritates your throat, making your cough worse. It can also cause bloating which makes breathing worse.
Water is the best source of hydration and in the case of COPD water is essential to beat dehydration. Typically, 8 to 12 glasses of water per day are optimal to keep you hydrated.
Drinking water will thin the stuck-up mucus making breathing easier. It also helps to dilute the level of infection and medication that may cause dryness in your respiratory system.
Pineapple contains bromelain which is considered safe and effective against COPD. Even though researchers are still looking for solid evidence to prove its effectiveness, regulating the intake of 80 to 500 milligrams of bromelain may help you recover.
Summary Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease ( COPD) is a medical condition that causes inflammation in the respiratory tract resulting in the development of excess mucus and breathlessness. Even though the main cause of it is smoking, non-smoking individuals with an impure environment can also get it.