Inflammation of the airways for a long duration of time causes the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD presents with respiratory symptoms, like difficulty in breathing, which is mostly caused by irritants in the airways. COPD comprises different disorders like emphysema, asthma, bronchiectasis, and chronic bronchitis. A combination of emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the most common COPD conditions.
The symptoms of COPD develop gradually over time and become worse as they progress. A diagnosis of COPD is made by Dr. Kaplana Desai through a medical examination, physical examination, laboratory, and imaging tests. There is no permanent cure of COPD but the symptoms of COPD can be treated to reduce the symptoms and to improve the quality of life of the affected persons. The management of symptoms also reduces permanent damage to the lungs.
Symptoms of COPD
COPD presents with difficulty in breathing during exercise and physical activities. Coughing that lasts for a long time is another symptom of COPD. Most people get a wet cough with sputum which can be clear, yellow, green, or brown depending on the specific condition that you have. Chest tightness, fatigue, and wheezing are other symptoms of COPD.
People with advanced COPD can develop unintentional weight loss, malaise, and swelling of the legs, ankles, and feet. If you do not seek treatment for COPD, you can experience complications like lower respiratory infections such as pneumonia, depression, lung cancer, pulmonary hypertension, and heart diseases. It is advisable to visit a doctor as soon as you get any symptoms of COPD.
What Causes COPD?
Smoking cigarettes is the most common cause of COPD in the developed world. In developing countries, most people with COPD get it after being exposed to fumes from burning fuel in rooms that lack enough ventilation. These irritants damage the airways blocking the exhalation of air from the lungs which cause retention of carbon dioxide, harming the body.
Some risk factors make you prone to getting COPD like having a genetic predisposition due to deficiency of the alpha-1-antitrypsin gene. People who suffer from asthma are prone to COPD because asthma causes inflammation and narrowing of the airways. Your risks of COPD multiplies if you are a smoker who also suffers from asthma.
Working in a place that exposes you to irritants, dust, chemical fumes, and vapors make you susceptible to COPD. You can prevent COPD by quitting smoking, living in a place with good ventilation, and getting a vaccination for the flu. You should also be physically active and live a healthy lifestyle by eating a healthy diet. Treatment of COPD can include medications that are given over a short or long duration.
Other treatment modalities for COPD include giving supplemental oxygen to boost the supply in the body, lung transplant, or surgery. You can also benefit from the holistic treatment of COPD using medical treatments, surgery, physical therapy, and lifestyle modification.
COPD is a common lung disease that affects people who smoke and those who are exposed to other irritants like smoke, industrial fumes, and vapors, and those with a family history of COPD. The symptoms of COPD include shortness of breath, wet cough, and fatigue. COPD does not have a cure but the symptoms can be managed with medications, surgery, physical therapy, and lifestyle modification.