When there are obstructions in the lungs’ small airways, breathing becomes difficult. The narrowing of the airways can be caused by a variety of factors. Damage to the lungs, obstruction of the airways by mucus, and inflammation and swelling of the lining of the airways are all possible outcomes.
“Emphysema” and “chronic bronchitis” are common terms for COPD. A common symptom of emphysema is the deterioration of the small air sacs that line the lungs’ airways. Chronic bronchitis is characterized by a persistent cough accompanied by the production of phlegm as a result of airway swelling.
COPD is a prevalent, manageable, and avoidable chronic lung disease that affects both men and women worldwide.
Most patients with COPD can attain good signs control and quality of life, and also a reduced risk of other related illnesses, with the right care of their illness.
Symptoms of COPD
COPD makes breathing more difficult. Initially, symptoms may be mild, such as occasional coughing and shortness of breath, but they will worsen over time. Swelling and difficulty breathing become more frequent as the disease progresses.
You may experience chest tightness, wheezing, or excessive sputum production as a symptom of asthma. In some cases, COPD sufferers experience acute exacerbations, in which their symptoms worsen.
Early warning signs
COPD symptoms can be mild at first. These signs could be mistaken for a cold.
Among the early signs are:
- Breathing difficulties from time to time, especially after physical exertion
- A recurrence of a mild cough
- Clearing your throat frequently, especially at the start of the day
You may begin to make small adjustments, such as avoiding the stairs or skipping physical activities, to improve your health.
Symptoms can get worse and more difficult to ignore as time goes on. Damage to the lungs can lead to the following symptoms:
- tightness in the chest
- mucus or no mucus, a persistent cough
- daily bronchial mucus removal is required
- after even light exercise, such as climbing a flight of stairs, a feeling of shortness of breath
- high-pitched noises, especially during exhalations, such as wheezing
- frequent respiratory infections such as colds, flu, and the like
- lack of motivation
In more advanced stages, symptoms may include:
- swelling of the lower legs and feet
- loss of weight
If you smoke or are frequently exposed to secondhand smoke, your signs probably can get much worse.
You need to see a doctor and get diagnosed to find out if you have COPD or not. It is because the symptoms of COPD can be mistaken for those of other diseases, making a diagnosis more difficult.
Get a Doctor to Identify the Problem
In the first place, your doctor will want to know about your overall health, any history of COPD in your family, and any current or past symptoms you’re experiencing.
COPD is characterized by shortness of breath, a persistent cough, and the production of thick, yellowish-brown mucus (phlegm).
In more advanced stages, symptoms may include:
- A feeling of tightness inside the chest
- Having a hard time staying active
- A decrease in sexual activity
- Weight gain (as a result of inactivity)
- Loss of weight (because of breathing problems while eating)
In the morning, symptoms can be more pronounced.
If any of these symptoms are present, your doctor will want to know about them when assessing you. In addition, they will want to know if you or anyone in your household has ever smoked, as smoking is the leading cause of COPD. Additionally, long-term exposure to pollutants, fumes, or dust can increase the risk of developing COPD.
You may not notice any symptoms at all in the early stages of the disease. Subtle changes, such as increased fatigue from simple tasks like walking upstairs or bringing in the groceries, can also be a sign of dementia.
A doctor may be interested in these symptoms if they steadily worsen over time and there is no obvious cause. A spirometer is a special airflow device that can be used by your doctor if they suspect that you have COPD. Other tests, such as a chest X-ray, may also help determine a diagnosis.
Even though there is no cure for COPD at the time, early treatment can significantly slow the disease’s progression.
Treatment of COPD
It’s possible to slow the progression of the disease and help reduce symptoms with treatment. A pulmonologist and physical and respiratory therapists may be part of your healthcare team.
Therapy with oxygen
Using a nasal cannula or a mask, you can receive extra oxygen to help you breathe more easily if your blood oxygen level is too low. It’s easier to get around if you have a portable device.
To have surgery, you must have severe COPD or a form of severe emphysema, which is more likely when other treatments have failed.
Bullectomy is a type of surgery. surgeons remove large abnormal air spaces (bullae), which are removed during this procedure.
Another option is a procedure known as lung volume reduction surgery, which means removing damaged upper lungs. Lung volume reduction surgery has the potential to improve breathing, but only a small number of patients are willing to take the risky and potentially life-altering step.
Patients with lung disease may have the option of a lung transplant. COPD can be cured through lung transplantation, but it comes with several risks.
These one-way valves, known as endobronchial valves (EBV), are less invasive ways to improve airflow efficiency in people with severe emphysema and divert air to healthy lungs and away from damaged ones.
Medications for COPD
Medications can help alleviate symptoms and prevent flare-ups. While it may take some experimentation, these are some of the medications and dosages that you can try:
A bronchodilator inhaled
Medications known as bronchodilators loosen the muscles in your airways, allowing you to breathe easier. Inhalers and nebulizers are commonly used to administer them.
Bronchodilators work by loosening the muscles in your airways, allowing for easier airflow. In addition, they aid in the removal of mucus from the lungs. Inhalers and nebulizers can be used to administer these two types of bronchodilators in combination.
Here is a list of LABA/LAMA bronchodilator therapies that are recommended:
Inhaled glucocorticosteroids and long-acting bronchodilators are frequently used together. Glucocorticoids reduce inflammation and mucus production in the respiratory tract.
An airway relaxant, the long-lasting bronchodilator, can keep the airways open longer. Pills containing corticosteroids are also on the market.
Chest tightness and shortness of breath are alleviated by taking this medication. Also, it may be able to prevent flare-ups. A pill version of it is on the market. You can also order the heart medication online for instant delivery.
There may be side effects from using theophylline, an older medication that relaxes the airway muscles. It’s usually not the first choice for COPD treatment.
Flu shots, pneumococcal vaccines, and tetanus boosters with pertussis protection are all good ways to protect yourself from respiratory infections (whooping cough).
How to live with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease?
Disease management of COPD is required for the rest of one’s life. That means sticking to the advice of your healthcare team and complying with a healthy diet and exercise routine.
You’ll want to steer clear of anything that could put too much strain on your lungs or cause a flare-up. As you adjust your lifestyle, here is a list of things to keep in mind.
- Avoid smoking at all costs. Ask your doctor about smoking cessation programs if you’re having trouble quitting. Make an effort not to breathe in secondhand smoke, fumes from chemicals, pollution, or dust.
- Get in some exercise. Every day, a little bit of exercise can help you maintain your strength. Ask your doctor how much exercise is safe for you to engage in. –
- Make healthy food choices. Avoid foods that are high in calories and salt, but low in nutrients, such as highly processed foods.
- Taking care of other issues. In addition to COPD, managing other chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, is critical.
- Clean the house. Clean and organize your home to reduce the amount of time and effort it takes to clean and perform other household chores. If you have advanced COPD, you should consider hiring someone to assist you with your daily activities.
- Be on the lookout for relapses. Keep a copy of your emergency contact information in your wallet or purse, as well as on your kitchen counter. Do not forget to include the dosages of any medications you are currently taking. Make sure you have the phone’s emergency numbers saved.
- Find a friend. It’s a huge relief to be able to confide in someone who gets it. Inquire about joining an online community. You can join the organizations to meet people who are also living with
COPD, in contrast to some illnesses, has a well-established cause and treatment strategy, and it is possible to slow the progression of the disease. Cigarette smoking is the primary risk factor for developing COPD, and the best way to avoid the disease is to never smoke or to stop smoking immediately.
If you have COPD, then here are some of the precautions you can take to avoid the complications:
- Lower the risk of heart disease and lung cancer by quitting smoking.
- Vaccines against flu and pneumococcal pneumonia can lower your risk of infection or even prevent it.
- If you’re feeling low or hopeless, don’t hesitate to seek help from your doctor.