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COPD - Things You Must Always Remember!

Written and reviewed by
MBBS, MD - Pulmonary Medicine, FNB-Critical Care, Europeon Diploma In Adult Respiratory Medicine, Europeon Diploma In Intensive Care, Fellow
Pulmonologist, Delhi  •  22 years experience
COPD - Things You Must Always Remember!

COPD, also known as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is a chronic medical condition that triggers extensive damage to the lungs, interfering with its functioning. In COPD, the lungs and the air sacs or the alveoli undergo severe inflammation that gives rise to a host of complications including wheezing, shortness of breath and other related breathing troubles. While an early medical assistance is instrumental in proper management and treatment of COPD, in most cases, the associated symptoms and discomfort appear at a later stage (when the lungs have already undergone damage and inflammation). Thus, a proper awareness about COPD is necessary. In this article, we will discuss some important points related to COPD to help people understand the condition better.

While there can be a plethora of triggers, two of the medical conditions that elevate the incidence of COPD are Chronic Bronchitis and Emphysema. The bronchial tubules functions as a carrier transporting the air (oxygenated and deoxygenated) from the lungs to the different body parts and vice versa.

  • In case of Chronic Bronchitis, the lining of these tubules undergo severe inflammation. 
  • In the case of Emphysema, the inner walls of the alveoli may rupture resulting in deleterious consequences including breathlessness.

For long people were of the opinion that COPD only affects people who smoke. However, various surveys suggest that COPD does affect non-smokers as well. While smoking does make a person more susceptible to the condition (COPD as well as Chronic Bronchitis and Emphysema), other factors such as chronic and severe neonatal lung ailments or prolonged exposure to the harmful gases and lung irritants can also act as triggers.

Though the incidences of COPD are relatively higher in people above 45 years, the young adults or the middle-aged can also be affected. Also, COPD is not limited to males and can affect females as well. Some of the symptoms associated with COPD include chest tightness, wheezing, breathlessness, chronic cough (often with mucus). These symptoms are quite similar to those of Asthma with people often confusing between the conditions. Thus, a proper diagnosis is vital. Spirometry is a lung test used in the diagnosis of COPD. This test evaluates the functioning of the lungs by measuring the amount of air inhaled and exhaled.

When we talk about the treatment or management of COPD, quitting smoking does improve the condition. For people with breathing troubles and chronic cough, the Bronchodilators (can be long-acting or short-acting Bronchodilators depending on the extent of the discomfort) comes as a great relief. The use of corticosteroids (inhaled) can go a long way to alleviate the inflammation of the airways.

In extreme cases with reduced oxygen reaching the blood, a person may need Oxygen Therapy to improve the condition. Of late the Pulmonary rehabilitation program have been benefiting people in dealing with COPD better. The program involves an amalgamation of counselling sessions to educate the people about the diet and nutrition, precautions to be followed along with some healthy lifestyle changes.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult a specialist & get answers to your questions!
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