Health and Fitness

What should you know about COPD symptoms?

Diseases of the lungs are becoming increasingly common nowadays. One of the primary reasons associated with the progressing number of lung patients is the habit of smoking. Inhaling tobacco smoke is dangerous for health and can lead to several unforeseen consequences. It may make it difficult for you to breathe and worsen your overall well-being. One common lung disease that results from smoking is a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). To know more about this condition and COPD symptoms, it is advised to read this article. Here you go!

What is COPD? What are its symptoms?

COPD can be understood as an umbrella term for two lung conditions, namely emphysema and chronic bronchitis. In the first problem, the damage occurs to the air sacs of the lungs, due to which they lose elasticity and become unable to exchange carbon dioxide and oxygen efficiently. On the other hand, in chronic bronchitis, patients suffer from inflammation of the airway lining. Because of this, the mucus thickens and gets produced in large quantities. People suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease need to be extra cautious because the damage caused to the lungs in this condition is irreversible. It causes difficulty in breathing and results in airway obstruction. 

The common COPD symptoms that patients are likely to experience include breathlessness, persistent cough, wheezing, fatigue, excess septum production, and difficulty breathing. In patients at the advanced level of COPD, the signs worsen, which makes them unable to climb stairs or cook a meal. Such people have reduced mental alertness, a rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath while talking, and a bluish tint on their lips. Anyone who shows severe COPD symptoms is advised to immediately contact a medical care expert.

Which factors are responsible for causing COPD?

As we have already mentioned, the primary cause of developing COPD is smoking. Inhaling tobacco smoke makes you vulnerable to the condition and may exacerbate the symptoms. For people who do not smoke but have someone by their side, maybe in their close friends or family, who does, the chances of developing COPD are high. It is so because second-hand or passive smoking worsens the condition. Besides, reasons like exposure to air pollutants and toxins at the workplace or home also lead to the condition. Other factors that result in this condition are asthma, a family history of COPD, and genetic factors.

Which risk factors are associated with COPD?

People who become COPD patients before the age of 40 usually have an underlying condition like alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. It is a risk factor for COPD that increases your likeliness of developing this health problem. Besides this, asthma is another risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease as it inflames and narrows the airway. So, if you are an asthma patient, you should be more careful about the well-being of your lungs.

What health complications can result from COPD?

COPD is a serious health condition that can make you bedridden. The breathing issue resulting from this problem can complicate your life and lead to several health issues. These include mobility problems, mental well-being issues like depression, chronic conditions like diabetes, memory loss, and worsened overall health. Other hurdles you may face because of the condition are loss of income and social isolation. Thus, COPD patients need to practice proper precautions as having this health condition can degrade their overall life quality.

How can you diagnose COPD?

If someone suffers from COPD, it is vital to identify and diagnose the condition and begin its treatment. It is so because the harm that happens to the lungs in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease cannot be reversed. So, the earlier you diagnose the condition and the sooner you can begin its treatment, the better will be your well-being. 

For diagnosing whether someone has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the first step is to observe if someone is experiencing coughing and breathing issues. Although these signs may appear in various conditions, they will persist and worsen over time in someone who has COPD. Next, you should fix an appointment with a healthcare expert. Your doctor will conduct a physical examination using a stethoscope and listen to your breathing. Then, he may request you to undergo:

  • A lung function test (spirometry) will measure the amount and speed of airflow while breathing.
  • An arterial blood test to take note of the oxygen level in your blood.
  • And an imaging test like an X-ray or CT scan to get a better idea of the condition of your lungs.

If the doctor suspects that you have COPD symptoms, he may inquire about your personal and family medical histories. To determine the cause and get a better perspective, you can be asked to answer some questions about your history of smoking and exposure to pollutants.

What are some possible treatment options for COPD?

Although there is no permanent cure for COPD, here are some ways of managing the COPD symptoms. Following them will help reduce the risk of further health complications and slow down the progression of the disease:

  • Smoking Cessation: 

Since inhaling smoke is one of the primary causes of COPD, quitting the habit can help slow down the condition’s progression. However, if you do not smoke in the first place, you should stay away from people who do to avoid inhaling passive smoke.

  • Avoid Inhaling Polluted Air:

You should try to avoid breathing in polluted air whenever possible. For this, you must avoid being near open fires, avoid places that are being sprayed painted, close doors and windows when indoors if outside pollution levels are high, and wear protective gear like a mask when working in a dusty environment,

  • Drug Treatments:

One of the simplest ways to manage symptoms and prevent COPD is to take medication. To help you breathe easily, the doctor can prescribe you an inhaler containing several drugs. Besides, they may also suggest antibiotics to help improve the condition.

COPD is a group of lung problems that can prevent you from breathing easily. It is primarily caused by inhaling tobacco smoke or breathing in polluted air. For patients who have been diagnosed with COPD, drug treatment and smoking cessation are recommended.

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