In Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), airflow into and out of the lungs is reduced due to chronic bronchitis or emphysema, or a combination of both. Normally the respiratory system moves enough air in and out of the lungs to meet the body’s needs.
With COPD the flow is blocked, causing stale air to become trapped in the lungs. This leaves less room for fresh air to enter and makes it harder to get oxygen to the rest of the body. Once diagnosed, COPD is a lifelong condition.
Chronic Bronchitis involves inflammation, swelling and spasms of the lung’s airways. The inflammation causes the bronchial tubes to produce too much mucus, which in turn causes coughing and wheezing.
Emphysema is the loss of elasticity of the small air sacs of the lung. This produces overexpansion of the lung and reduces lung emptying. The main cause of emphysema is smoking, but sometimes it is genetic.
What are COPD symptoms?
The symptoms are:
- Chronic Cough
- Mucus Production
- Frequent Lung Infection
- Chest Tightness (Heaviness)
- Cold That Lasts For Weeks
- Increased Fatigue
- Inability to Perform Normal Activities.
What do you need to know?
COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. It is the only one of the top 10 killers in the nation that continues to rise. Most people with COPD are, or have been, cigarette smokers. Anyone who has smoked one pack of cigarettes per day for 30 years (300 packs per year) could have evidence of COPD. Other factors such as exposure to fumes, breathing second-hand smoke, certain lung infections, and inherited disorders may also cause COPD.
Some questions to ask yourself:
- Do I smoke?
- Do I cough? At times bring up mucus?
- Am I able to keep up during routine activities?
- Does my breathing or coughing keep me from doing things that I used to enjoy?
- Have I missed days at work or been hospitalized?
Why should you see a COPD specialist and follow treatment plans?
- To prevent a life-threatening attack.
- To avoid hospitalization and flare-ups.
- To determine the best combination of medications.
- To maintain an active and healthy lifestyle.
A specialist can test lung function to accurately diagnose COPD and determine how well your respiratory system is moving fresh air in and out of your lungs.
How can you manage your COPD?
Smoking cessation is the most important step. It will allow your lungs to recover to some degree, avoid additional damage, and reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke, and lung cancer.
There are several effective inhaled and oral medications. Supplemental oxygen may dramatically increase quality of life for patients with persistently low oxygen levels. Exercise and maintaining a balanced diet are very important.
Want more information about COPD and what you can do?
Contact us today or call (239) 437-6670.