Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is one of the leading causes of death in the world. COPD is a preventable and progressive condition (gets worse over time) that makes it difficult to empty the air out of the lungs and makes it hard for the person to breathe. This leads to coughing, shortening of breath and the feeling of tiredness. COPD is a word that can be used to describe a person with chronic bronchitis, emphysema or a combination of both. It is different from asthma, but it can be difficult to distinguish between COPD and chronic asthma.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Signs and Symptoms of COPD

  • Increased breathlessness
  • Wheezing
  • Frequent coughing (with or without mucus)
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Fatigue
  • respiratory infections

What are the causes of COPD?

There are a variety of factors that can cause COPD:

  • The most common is inhaling pollutants like cigarette, pipe and cigar smoking
  • Exposure to strong lung irritants like fumes, chemicals, and dust are the contributing factors for many individuals
  • Family genes or heredity can also play a significant role in an individual
  • In rare cases, non-smokers who lack a protein called alpha-1 antitrypsin can develop emphysema

How is COPD treated?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for COPD but there are ways to relieve symptoms and keep the disease from getting worse. The best way to prevent it from getting worse is to stop smoking and avoid further damage to lungs. Often, people with COPD take a combination of medicines. Also, many people keep different medicines ready in case they have a flare-up, and symptoms worsen.

A healthcare provider may prescribe following medications to control the symptoms of COPD:

  • Bronchodilator (Inhalers) to help open the airways.
  • Oxygen therapy supplies like oxygen concentrators.
  • Anti-inflammatory medicines to reduce swelling.
  • Antibiotics.
  • Steroids to control lung inflammation.
  • Assistance from a machine to help to breathe.
  • Certain medicines during flare-ups, to prevent an infection from worsening.
  • Some healthcare professional might suggest use of CPAP machine, or continuous positive airway pressure machine, depending on patient’s conditions and symptoms. CPAP machine provides treatment that uses mild air pressure to keep the airways open. It is typically used by people who have breathing problems, and it proves effective in severe respiratory distress.
     
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