An obstruction of airflow into or out of the lungs that is slowly progressing is called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). A whopping 32 million people suffer from COPD in the United States only. It is slightly more prevalent in men than in women, with the age of 40-50 being the most common for diagnosing COPD, although there are some people who are diagnosed with the condition at a younger age.
Now, to help you understand the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease better, we’ve come up with the following list of facts you should know about the condition. Just read on to find out more.
- In general, COPD is caused by long-term exposure to irritants like air pollution that can damage the airways and lungs significantly.
- The primary cause of the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is cigarette smoking or exposure to smoke, while other causes may also include infectious diseases or genetic conditions.
- People with COPD have a good to poor life expectancy, depending on the stage and the severity of the condition. The stages range from stage 1 to stage IV.
- According to the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD), COPD is an airflow limitation that cannot be fully reversed and is usually progressive.
- Common symptoms of the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease include cough, chest discomfort, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
- Progressive symptoms of COPD, typically common for the later stages of the disease, include tachypnea, peripheral edema, respiratory distress, cyanosis, hyperinflation, abnormal lung sounds, chronic wheezing, prolonged expiration, use of accessory respiratory muscles, and elevated jugular venous pulse.
- Cigarette smoking, secondhand smoke, air pollution, and alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency are considered risk factors of COPD.
- Asthma, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis can increase the chance of developing the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
- Doctors make a COPD diagnosis by looking through a patient’s breathing history and irritants exposure. The stage is then determined by the patient’s FEV1 level.
- Avoiding all the risks and causes of COPD, like quitting cigarette smoking, for example, is key for treating the condition. Sometimes, even lung surgery (bullectomy or lung volume reduction) or lung transplant is needed.
- When it comes to medical treatments, several bronchodilators, anticholinergics, steroids, and enzyme inhibitors may be prescribed.
- Some COPD patients should also take antibiotics, mucolytic agents, and oxygen or do endurance exercises and yoga.
- Patients with COPD have to contact their healthcare provider before trying out homemade remedies or taking vitamins, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Sometimes, vaccines providing protection from lung infections like the flu or pneumococcal vaccine can help in preventing COPD development.
- As COPD progresses, other doctors besides the patient’s primary care provider may be involved in treating the patient like a pulmonologist, lung surgeon, pulmonary rehabilitation specialist, etc.
- The key to successfully treating chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is its early diagnosis, so as soon as a person notices any of the COPD symptoms, he or she should contact their doctors immediately.