COPD, A chronic and unknown disease – Everyday Science
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COPD, A chronic and unknown disease

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the third leading cause of death in the US, affecting more than 16 million Americans and millions more may have the disease without even knowing that.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD is a preventable and treatable respiratory disease but not curable. This pathology is characterized by obstruction of airflow and difficulty in emptying air from the lungs. COPD, according to 2015 data from the World Health Organization (WHO), is the fourth leading cause of death in the world. In US, more than 16 million people have been diagnosed with COPD, although more than half are not diagnosed. That is why it is said to be a very frequent disease, but unknown. In this article, we explain the causes of COPD, its symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.

COPD Causes:

COPD is caused, mainly by the inhalation of particles from cigarette smoke, air pollution and workplace exposure to dust, or generated by the use of biomass as a source of heat.

Smoking is linked up to 90% of all COPD deaths in the United States.

In men smokers are 26 times more likely to die from Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease than their non-smoker counterparts.

In women smokers are 22 times more likely to die from COPD than non-smoking women.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Symptoms:

  • Chronic and persistent cough with increase mucus
  • Shortness of breath especially during physical activity
  • Episodes of wheezing
  • Persistent or progressing episodes of dyspnea
  • Experiencing the feeling of tightness in the chest
  • Inability to take deep breaths
  • Decreased appetite
  • Depression
  • Low energy
  • Respiratory infections
  • Skin discoloration

copd symptoms and treatment

You can suspect the existence of COPD when these symptoms appear and have been or are being exposed to risk factors. But to establish the definitive diagnosis is essential to perform a spirometry in order to study lung function.

Treatment of COPD:

The treatment of COPD Chronic obstructive pulmonary diseaseconsists of the following steps:

Given up smoking:

Indispensable, since tobacco is the cause of 90% of cases with COPD.

Inhaled medication:

It helps to control the symptoms and reduce the frequency and severity of the exacerbations. This treatment comes more directly to the lung and it effects faster. Any inhalation device is effective if it is done correctly; for this it is necessary to review how the technique is done in a habitual way. Although the patient is well, you should not stop taking it, unless prescribed by the doctor.

Keep a healthy weight:

It is common for patients with COPD to have their weight altered, either by default or by excess. Excess weight, especially around the belly, can increase the sensation of shortness of breath, in addition to increasing the risk of coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. Meanwhile, in cases of malnutrition, lung function worsens the quality of life of the person and their muscular strength and may suffer from immunological alterations that can cause an exacerbation of the disease.

Exercise:

Performing physical activities increases the feeling of suffocation in people suffering from COPD, so these patients usually reduce their level of activity to prevent dyspnea. However, it is necessary to maintain an active life and exercise for all the beneficial effects it has on the body.

Walking is good for copd patient

Therefore, physical exercise is the most recommended non-pharmacological treatment in these people. To control the symptoms it is fundamental to coordinate the physical activity with the breathing with technique with pursed lips.

Sleep well:

To have a good quality of life it is necessary to rest well every day. COPD, together with smoking, alcohol consumption, and obesity … can contribute to the appearance of sleep apnea – hypopnea syndrome, so those who have trouble in sleeping, who snore or get up with the feeling of lack of rest, irritability or morning head ache, should consultant with doctor.

Overcome anxiety or depression:

Having a chronic illness increases the risk of suffering from depression, stress and anxiety, but the appearance of any of them can worsen symptoms, such as shortness of breath.

Continue with your social life:

Suffering COPD does not mean having to stay at home and not enjoy free time, only a little more planning is required.

Oxygen therapy:

It is a necessary treatment when oxygen levels in the blood are below normal. They does not produce dependence, its administration being necessary as long as it has been prescribed. It is unlikely that intermittent administration of oxygen will provide benefits.

An exacerbation is a worsening of the disease that produces a change, generally abrupt, of the state of health. To detect it, we must act on any sign of alarm, such as increased dyspnea, cough, changes in the appearance and amount of secretions, worse tolerance to habitual activity, increased need for more medication, fever or swelling of the legs.

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