COPD: sign, risk factors, treatment

What is COPD?

COPD is abbreviation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It is a chronic, irreversible obstruction of airflow in airways. In this disease there is a long-term or permanent breathing problem due to lungs damage.

Due to COPD shortness of breath and cough, it is much irritating situation for the patient. This disease is usually progressive. basically it takes a lot of time to develop. Usually other respiratory disorders like asthma and emphysema progressively leads to COPD.

OVERVIEW

It is characterized by persistent symptoms. They may include cough, excess of mucus, chest tightness, shortness of breath, loss of sleep leading ultimately to fatigue. Smoking is the greatest risk factor of It. Smoking cessation is recommended to relief this disease. But it depends upon stage and severity of disease.

Many medication are used to give the patients in health care centers, after diagnosis. Unfortunately after all these medical and non medical care many patients have no relief. They still experience a decline in lung function over time. So it is not curable. We always should take precautionary measures to prevent this irritating and fatal disease.


sign and symptoms of COPD

It is a progressive disease. at early stages symptoms are mild. Common signs are cough, breathing problem, increased production of sputum. Usually patients misinterpret it as cold.

As symptoms of this chronic disease are much similar to asthma so it might be confused with asthma. But in COPD characteristic irreversible obstruction of air flow occurs which is different than asthma. Progressively, long term asthma and emphysema leads to it.

Signs

following are the symptoms and signs which patients usually camplain about:

  • cough which progresses to chronic with time
  • Excessive production of mucus
    Due to much mucus produced many of the airways started to block. Due to less space availability less amount of air reached to the lungs.
  • Shortness of breath
    Due to less air in lungs, progressively alveoli in the lung started to destroyed over time. This condition is most commonly caused in emphysema. Ultimately which leads to COPD. This condition is very disturbing both psychologically and physically. This ultimately can also lead to anxiety.
  • chest tightness
    This is also a very common complain of the patients.
  • COPD exacerbation
  • loss of sleep
  • fatigue
  • physical activity limitation
  • wheezing
  • swelling of ankle
  • bulging neck veins

    Other sign which might be helpful to detect is bluish or grayish nails and lips and even color of veins can also be changed. The reason behind is that as we know that there is a very less availability of oxygen. Due to deficiency of oxygen in blood color of blood might be changed. Due to which color of lips and nails can turn to blue.

commonly asked questions

When to see a physician?

as many people take it easy and consider it as usual cold. They do not go for check up. As a result this condition get more and more severe. in this case its treatment is much difficult. So when you notice the cough is getting severe day by day along with increased production of mucus, immediately go for a check up. Most importantly if you a smoker and you notice bluish lips and finger nails than you should not avoid these symptoms. Moreover shortness of breath and limitation in physical activity due to fatigue are also danger signs.

at what age it occurs?

Usually at the age of 40 or more than 40 years its symptoms appear. Because it is a very long term disease. its symptoms appear after a lot of lungs damage. The onset early than this age is very rare but can be occur. some genetic factors can also cause its early onset.

how I can diagnose it at home?

take a full breath and hold a stopwatch in your hand. now start the stop watch and blow the air as fast as possible. if takes more than 4-6 seconds in emptying your lungs than it means that your lungs and airways are facing some obstructions. Obviously it is not a good sign.

risk factors of COPD

smoking

more than 90% of patients are smokers. Smoking is the major risk factor.it is directly linked to the lungs decline. when you are already asthma patient and even now you are a smoker than definitely it is death. Other than that women are more susceptible to dangerous effects of smoking than men. Smoking during pregnancy can cause chronic obstructive pulmonary obstruction in the child. Even if you are not a smoker but you are in continuous encounter with smokers than you are also in risk of developing this pulmonary disorder.

Air pollution

Long term exposure to harmful chemicals in air put you on risk of that disorder. Progressively air pollutants decline the functions of lungs. Like in developing countries people use biomass and other household fuels for cooking. Due to this many harmful chemicals are produced. As there is no good ventilation in that home they are at risk. mostly women are at high risk due to long term exposure.

genetics

this is also a risk factor. But onset of this disease in less common due to genetics.

Diagnosis, treatment and prevention

diagnosis

its diagnosis is much difficult because of misinterpretations it as cold or asthma. But your limit of exposure to tobacco smoke, air pollutants and other these chemicals can give an idea about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Otherwise your doctor can also ask about your family history. And also with the help of signs and symptoms it can be detected.

But for sure results healthcare professionals can perform following tests:

  • chest x-ray
  • CT scan

Treatment

It is not curable but can be managed by:

  • Bronchodilators
  • corticosteroids
  • roflumilast
  • exercise
  • surgery

Prevention

Smoking cessation can effectively reduce the risk of getting this disease. you should also prevent any that area and company in which you may encounter smoke. By reducing the smoke encounter you are at 90% less risk. Other than the smoke each and every air pollutants must be avoided. Especially if you have COPD family history than you shold be extra conscious about these preventery measure.

Regards,

Dr. ANIFA YOUSAF

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