Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD is a term that represents progressive lung diseases such as refractory asthma, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema. It is a disease that makes it hard for you to breathe.
Unfortunately, this disease is becoming common around the world. It is starting to affect Americans, making the disease one of the leading causes of death in the US. Although the impact of this sickness does not appear immediately, you might find it hard to work, do household chores, and get easily tired of doing social activities. Even worse, this illness can affect your mental health resulting in depression and stress.
On a brighter note, this ailment can be prevented and cured. There is even an organization called American Lung Association that aimed to support victims of COPD. But before you get to the treatment of this sickness, find out its causes and symptoms. Read on.
Symptoms of COPD
One of the first symptoms that you would feel is shortness of breath and coughing. Most of the time, victims believe that it is just because of aging or just merely cough, but if not treated immediately, these could lead to COPD. Here are the other signs of COPD:
It is a high-pitched whistling sound that you make every time you breathe. People with COPD tend to wheeze because their airways are blocked. There is also a possibility that your airways are swollen or clogged with extra mucus.
Tightness in the chest
Apart from wheezing, the extra mucus in your lungs can cause tightness in your chest. When this happens, you might feel shortness of breath or coughing, which are the other symptoms of COPD.
It is the most common sign of COPD. This is because when the lung is already weak or damaged, there is a tendency that the air will have a hard time traveling in and out of your lungs causing you breathlessness.
Once any of these signs appear, immediately call your doctor. Otherwise, your lungs might eventually worsen and be damaged.
Causes of COPD
There are many causes of COPD. It can be because of smoking or an exposure to gases. This is why before you can cure this disease, it is best to avoid its causes including the following:
It is the leading cause and trigger of COPD. This is because when you smoke, you damage your air sacs, linings of your lungs, and airways. Even if you are not a smoker, you can be infected through smoking.
Exposure to dust and gases
A study showed that there are COPD cases that are caused by exposures to dust, fumes, and gases. Even those working in factories that involve chemicals, fumes and wood dust could have COPD.
Other causes that might result in COPD are heart disease, diabetes, depression, and high blood pressure.
Stages of COPD
COPD is not just a simple lung disease. In fact, it is a combination of various lung ailments. This is why when you go to your doctor, he or she will examine you carefully and categorize your disease based on these examinations:
1. Gold system
Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease or Gold system has a guideline that categories different levels of COPD. It usually checks your symptoms, if your COPD has worsened, and how many times you have been hospitalized. There are four groups under this system:
- Group A: low risk with few symptoms
- Group B: low risk with more symptoms
- Group C: high risk with few symptoms
- Group D: high risk with more symptoms
This “stage” uses measurements to check the status of your ailment. The first measurement is the forced vital capacity (FVC) that checks your disease by letting you breathe in and out as deep as you can. The second measure, on the contrary, examines the air you can exhale for a second. It is called a forced respiratory volume (FEV-1).
3. Symptom grades
There is a questionnaire dedicated to those with COPD called the Modified Medical Research Council (mMRC) or COPD Assessment Test (CAT). There are four grades under this examination that can determine if your COPD is already worst.
Treatment for COPD
Unfortunately, once your lungs are damaged, it might be difficult to treat it. Although, there are still ways for you to prevent having COPD. Check out these preventions for you to avoid having this ailment below.
1. Quit smoking
One of the main causes of COPD is smoking which is why the best way for you to prevent from having this is to avoid this at all.
2. Have medications and inhalers.
It is great for you to have inhalers that you can use when you cannot breathe properly. A brown bag might do the trick as well.
3. Lung transplant or surgery
In the event that your lungs are severely damaged, doctors might suggest that you undergo surgery.
4. Pulmonary rehabilitation
The increasing number of victims of COPD resulted in having rehabilitation. If you have COPD, then you might be advised to go to a pulmonary rehabilitation for you can get enough exercise and keep your lungs healthy.
The treatment for COPD will vary depending on your disease. If the risk is still low, then you can opt for medications and inhalers. But if the risk is already high, then the best way is to go for a lung transplant.
COPD or Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a sickness in which your lungs are weak making it hard for you to breathe. This is usually caused by a lot of factors including smoking, exposure to gases, and other diseases.
Fortunately, there are different examinations that can determine the level of COPD. Usually, these tests base your ailment on your symptoms. Once your doctor finalizes your illness, he or she will give you the treatment.
But if you want to save yourself from having this disease, be sure to keep your lungs healthy. You can exercise regularly, eat healthy food, and please stay away from smokers.