What is COPD -Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, and Can You Treat it?
If you smoke, then you already know the risks of developing lung cancer or emphysema if you don’t stop smoking. Another condition related to smoking that effects over 12 million people in the US, leads to over 100,000 deaths annually, and is the 3rd leading cause of death is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD. This pulmonary disease develops slowly over time and it can take many years before symptoms appear. There is no cure for COPD at this time, and any current effects cannot be reversed, but you can learn to prevent further damage and deterioration to your lungs and slow or stop further progression of this disease.
What is COPD?
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease also called COPD, is a type of lung disease that is caused due to the breakdown of a lung tissue, related to smoking cigarettes, second hand smoke exposure, air pollution, occupational dusts and chemicals, heredity, a history of childhood respiratory infections and socioeconomic status.
In 1990 COPD ranked among the sixth leading causes of death in places like the UK and USA, but by 2009 this destructive pulmonary disease was ranked as the 3rd leading cause of death in the US. People suffering from Chronic Pulmonary Disease have difficulty in breathing, due to airflow obstruction that prevents air from entering the lungs to fuel the body. Frequent coughing with thick mucuc is one of the first symptoms of COPD. Another common symptom is the shortness of breath without exertion. In advanced cases of this respiratory disease, this condition may lead to strain in the heart, predicting a worse course of the disease.
Causes of COPD:
Some of the major Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease causes are – cigarette smoking, air pollution, dust and chemical exposure.
The picture to the right is a lung specimen showing effects of COPD.
1. Smoking: Smoking is the most common cause of COPD. Tobacco use is the major risk. Other types of smoking include that of cigar or water pipe. In countries like USA, 80 to 90 percent of people suffering from COPD is due to smoking. Smoking leads to inflammation of lungs resulting in scarring.
2. Air pollution: In developing countries air pollution is the main cause of COPD. Pollution coming from vehicles, fuels such as animal dung or wood causes it, or pollution from factories. Those who live in large cities have higher exposure of COPD then those living in rural areas. It is estimated that around the world around 2 billion people use coal and biomass as a source for cooking and other household use.
3. Genetics: Genetics plays an equal role in developing COPD. Around 2 percent of people worldwide is responsible for it. Birth factors also plays equal role.
4. Dust and chemicals. Chemicals like those of vapors, fumes and irritants. If someone has low respiratory infections during childhood then there is a chance to eventually develop this disease. Some who has chronic bronchitis has a higher rate of developing COPD as well.
5. Socioeconomic issues. People lower down on the socioeconomic ladder are more likely to develop COPD than other economic groups reports Physicians Weekly. This is due to many factors, such as lack of access to healthcare, residing in areas with lower air quality, and higher pollution and air-borne toxins reports
Diagnosis of COPD:
It is necessary that the disease is diagnosed as early as possible, so that a treatment can be used in order to slow the progression of COPD, emphysema and deterioration of the lungs. Diagnosis should be made under the supervision of a doctor experienced in respiratory diseases, and after the diagnosis the treatment of the disease should be started.
The most common symptoms of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease are:
- Shortness of breath
- Frequent coughing
- Chronic infections of the respiratory system
- Coughing and producing excess or thick mucus
There is no cure for COPD at this time, but effective treatments can make people with this pulmonary disease more comfortable, and can make their life easier to live. COPD can affect your life in many ways. It’s better to be healthy, active and learn good breathing techniques. People suffering from COPD are supported financially from the government and are also given all medication support too.
Here are some of the effective COPD treatment methods which should be followed:
1. The damage it has already caused to the lungs cannot be reversed, but one can slow the progression of the disease. Stopping smoking the most important step. Smoking is the major reason for the disease. If one stops smoking than half the problem is solved.
2. One should use an inhaler to make breathing of the infected person easier. There is also a small group of people who follow the option of surgery for immediate relief of breathing problems, such as lung transplant or other pulmonary surgery.
3. To improve air quality, it is important to adapt to pollution control efforts. It is better to stay in doors when air quality is poor outside, stop smoking, change jobs if needed to escape the effects of dust and chemicals on a daily basis, or at least wear a mask to prevent inhaling toxic dust, smoke, fumes or chemicals. Start planting more trees, plants and shrubs that take in bad air and give off clean air.
4. Exercise daily. Breathing exercise and a daily walk will help you maintain a healthy lifestyle, and may prevent the deterioration of your lung tissue, and thus prevent more effects of COPD. Exercise helps in strengthening the lung muscle, and would help you in using oxygen more efficiently. It also helps you sleep well at night and can also improve your mood.
5. Practice Communication: For people suffering from COPD, communication can be difficult due to shortness of breath. Take your time while speaking. Try to talk in short sentences and take some small rest in between sentences, if necessary.
Can COPD be prevented?
The best ways to prevent COPD are to stop smoking if you smoke, and don’t start smoking. Try to avoid exposure to second hand smoke, and don’t smoke around others in a closed in building, such as a house, vehicle, restaurant, etc. Wear proper ventilation equipment, if working in an occupation that puts you in regular contact with dust and chemicals, such as: construction, farming, factory work, or mining. The most idea; is change careers that does not put in regular exposure to dust or chemicals, exercise regularly and don’t smoke.
In UK, there are more than 25,000 deaths per year due to COPD, and in the US nearly 14,000 people die annually from COPD.
For some reason, women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with COPD than men.
While COPD can progress to End Stage COPD, which is usually fatal, with proper treatment, medication, and lifestyle changes COPD does not have to result in death.
Note: I hope the article is of some value to the readers. If you have your own opinions then feel free to talk in the comment box. All your suggestions and doubts would be answered.
About the Guest Author: This article is written by Diana. She is a writer/blogger. She writes articles on Health, Technology, social media, WordPress, Gamification, website development and online development etc. These days she contributes on hometone.