Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a composition of various infections that block the lungs preventing the flow of air in and out the lungs. The elasticity of the bronchi and the air sacs are responsible for helping the lungs to push out air during exhalation. When the lungs are infected with COPD, the elasticity of the bronchi is lost therefore some air remains trapped in the lungs when a person exhales.
COPD can affect anyone but it is most common to smokers. It is a chronic condition and can lead to many complications including depression caused by difficulty in breathing, there is also a high risk of experiencing lung cancer. The difficulty in breathing can also result in heart problems, other respiratory infections and can also result in high blood pressure in lung arteries.
The two main diseases associated with COPD are emphysema and chronic bronchitis which when combined; interfere with the flow of air in the lungs. Emphysema is a lung disease that destroys the walls and fibers of the alveoli. The air sacs collapse when a person with emphysema exhales leading to the blockage of air in the lungs. Chronic bronchitis is characterized by the inflammation and narrowing of the bronchial tubes. In this case, the lungs also produce an excess of mucus which continues to block the narrowed bronchial tubes. A person with chronic bronchitis tends to often develop a chronic cough to try and clear the air passage. The diagnosis of chronic bronchitis is made with a clinical presentation of a chronic cough, productive of sputum for at least three months per year for at least two consecutive years. A combination of these diseases is therefore dangerous and very painful to the patient. OCPD can be treated and managed.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is associated with various signs and symptoms and some of them are chest tightness, wheezing and general body weakness of the patient. OCPD has a long incubation period when the infection is developing and the symptoms and diagnoses are mostly made with those patients in their 4th decade. OCPD is associated with four stages of development from stage I to stage IV, which is mostly known as the end stage and is worse than the previous stages. Various doctors are usually involved in the treatment of OCPD from lung surgeons to pulmonologists, depending on the stage of the Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease has various causes that include the following.
COPD can affect anyone. However, there are some people who are likely to suffer from the condition than others. The following group of people has high chances of suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease than any other person.
The early stages of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease do not usually show significant signs and symptoms that can be used to separate the first stage from the last and to clearly determine the disease. Patients with the condition have however complained of the following signs and symptoms before being diagnosed by the disease.
People suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease have days when their conditions become worse and worse each passing day. This is known as exacerbation and is experienced for several days. It is usually accompanied by extreme pain and difficulty in breathing.
There is no single way in which Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease can be diagnosed. A number of physical examinations and test can, however, be carried out to diagnose the disease.
During the diagnosis, other doctors, for example, a pulmonologist may also be involved to help determine the stage of the disease. This is done through the determination of FEV1 level.
During the differential diagnosis of COPD, chronic asthma is considered since they have similar characteristics. They both have wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath and chronic coughing. However, chronic asthma is singled out and separated from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease through the response to normal diffusion and bronchodilator on pulmonary function tests.
Congestive Heart Failure is also considered during the diagnosis of OCPD. They are both characterized by a persistent cough, wheezing, general body weakness and swelling in the legs, feet, and ankles. It is however differentiated from OCPD by the presence of a comet-tail sign on bedside lung ultrasonography.
In the case of a patient diagnosed by COPD through the effects of smoking, the best action to take towards healing is the stoppage of smoking. Passive smokers should also try and avoid situations that will make them inhale the tobacco smoke from active smokers.
The doctors then advice onset of medical treatment depending on the stage of development the patient's COPD is in. The medical treatment of COPD includes having a nicotine replacement therapy, administering smoking cessation medicines, and use of bronchodilators to open up the air tubes enabling free movement of air in and out of the lungs without any pain.
COPD exacerbation can also be treated through hospitalization to enable treatment of the symptoms, monitor the response of the patient to the administered drugs and prevent further damages.
If the COPD is severe and has extended to other organs or is posing a fatal threat, then a surgical operation can be performed. The various operations that can be undertaken to treat COPD include a bullectomy surgery, lung volume reduction surgery and lung transplant surgery if need be.
Several myths are associated with the development of OCPD. Some of those myths include the following.
Myth #1: All smokers end up developing COPD
This myth is not true. Research has indicated that only 20% to 30% of active smokers actually develop COPD. Most smokers develop less serious lung complications and only a small number of those complications lead to the diagnosis of COPD.
Myth #2: COPD is Fatal
COPD is a chronic pulmonary disease but it can be cured through medical treatment which includes the administration of various recommended drugs and surgery in severe cases. Patients go back to their normal lives after treatment.
Ans: Genetic or immune-based COPD cannot be prevented. However, COPD developed from smoking or other environmental agents can be prevented through observation of the following recommendations.
a) Not completely smoking. Passive smokers may also stay away from places where people constantly smoke.
b) People should also avoid pollution of air through the burning of charcoal or coal. Other clean sources of fuel should be implemented in a risk-free environment.
c) One should also stay away from industries or companies that produce dangerous and hazardous fumes. Industries should regulate and control the amount of wastage released to the environment by implementing safe and clean waste disposal methods.
d) It is advisable that one should be aware of their family’s history in order to decrease the chances of being affected by OCPD and prevent it altogether.
e) Constant medical check-ups can also be important in preventing the development of COPD.
Ans: This usually depends on the stage of the illness. People diagnosed in the early stages usually go back to their normal lives and have a normal life expectancy. However, this decreases as the stages progress.