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COPD - Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Author: Dr. Vasantha K S - Respiratory health  

COPD is an inflammatory lung disease that causes a progressive obstruction of airflow. Long-term exposure to irritants leads to COPD, mainly cigarette smoke, polluted air, toxic fumes, and dust. Although smokers are at high risk, this condition can affect non-smokers too.

Symptoms

  1. Cough with mucus (smoker's cough).
  2. Shortness of breath.
  3. Wheezing.
  4. Chest discomfort.

Causes

  1. Tobacco smoke.
  2. Second-hand smoke.
  3. Working in environments exposed to dust, fumes, and pollution.
  4. A rare genetic condition is known as alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency.
  5. Asthma.

Types

  • Emphysema: In this condition, there is a destruction of the air sacs of the lungs and hence airway collapse.
  • Chronic bronchitis: In this condition, there is inflammation of bronchial tubes. They form more mucus as a result of the irritation. There is a need for frequent throat clearing.

Complications

  1. Respiratory tract infections.
  2. Heart problems.
  3. High blood pressure.
  4. Lung cancer.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis is by a combination of the following:

  • Auscultation.
  • Spirometry.
  • Chest X-ray.
  • Arterial blood gas test.

Prevention

- If you are a smoker, this could be a direct cause of COPD. Quitting smoking and taking an antioxidant-rich diet will help prevent worsening and exacerbation of symptoms.

- If there is exposure to fumes at your place of work, be sure to wear a special mask to protect yourself.

- If you suffer from asthma, or frequent respiratory infections, flu, etc., it is advisable to stay away from cigarette smoke, be it first or second hand.

Treatment

Treatment involves a combination of lifestyle changes and medicines.

1) Lifestyle changes

  1. Quitting smoking.
  2. Avoiding other lung irritants.
  3. Eating small frequent meals so you do not strain yourself too much.
  4. Carrying out only those physical activities and exercises that are approved by your physician.

2) Medication

  1. Bronchodilator.
  2. Steroid for inhalation.
  3. Flu vaccine.
  4. Oxygen therapy.
  5. Surgery.

For more information consult a COPD specialist online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/pulmonologist/copd

Image: COPD - Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Last reviewed at: 29.Jan.2019

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