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World COPD Day Special - Facts You Should Know About COPD

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Nikhil Modi 92% (222 ratings)
MD, MBBS
Pulmonologist, Delhi  •  13 years experience
World COPD Day Special - Facts You Should Know About COPD

COPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is a lung disease wherein, it gets difficult for a person to breathe due to thickening and inflammation of airways. World COPD day is being celebrated on 16th November, in order to, raise  wareness about COPD. It is a group of progressive lung diseases, the most common ones of which are emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Emphysema destroys your lungs’ air sacs while bronchitis leads to the inflammation and narrowing of your bronchial tubes.

Symptoms of COPD

The early symptoms of COPD include occasional shortness of breath, especially after physical exercise, mild and recurrent cough and having the urge to clear your throat many times. You may start avoiding physical activities eventually. Other symptoms, which follow include wheezing, chest tightness, chronic cough with mucus, an urge to clear mucus from the lungs, frequent flu, colds and fatigue.

Factors behind it
Smoking accounts for being the major cause of COPD in developed countries. Commonly, people over the age of 40 with a history of smoking are affected with COPD. The more you smoke, more are your chances of getting the condition increase. Exposure to chemicals and harmful fumes may also cause COPD. Long-term exposure to polluted air and inhaling dust are other causes. The deficiency of a protein called alpha-1-antitrypsin is also said to cause COPD.

Diagnosis
COPD is diagnosed on the basis of several tests and examinations. They include spirometry, which is a noninvasive test for assessing lung function, imaging tests such as a chest X-ray or CT scan which provides an image of the lung for observation. An arterial blood gas test is also carried out for measuring blood oxygen levels.

Treatment
The treatment options for COPD include the following:

  1. Medication: Bronchodilators are used for relaxing the muscles of your lungs’ airways which simplify breathing. They are taken via inhalers. Glucocorticosteroids may be added to reduce inflammation.
  2. Oxygen therapyWhen your blood oxygen levels are low, oxygen is given via masks and nasal prongs which help you to breathe better.
  3. SurgerySurgery is carried out in the case of severe COPD or when other treatment methods fail. Bullectomy is a common surgical procedure used, in which the large air sacs or “bullae” are removed from the lungs. The lung volume reduction surgery is also carried out in which damaged lung tissues are removed. Lung transplant is required in extreme cases.
  4. Lifestyle changes: You need to make some lifestyle changes to alleviate the symptoms of COPD which include the following:
    • Quit smoking in case you are a regular smoker.
    • Avoid any form of second-hand smoke and chemical fumes.
    • Consume all the essential nutrients required by your body.
    • Consult a doctor about your exercise patterns.

In case you experience any symptom of COPD, you should consult a doctor immediately for quick diagnosis and proper treatment.

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