What is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)?
COPD is a non-contagious lung disease that includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. It is a condition where the airways become inflamed and the air sacs in your lungs are damaged. This leads to the narrowing of airways, making it harder for individuals with COPD to breathe. COPD usually affects the older population. It is not the same as asthma, which is multifactorial and more frequently seen in the young.
What are the causes?
Smoking causes 80% to 90% of COPD cases. A less common cause is that of genetic deficiencies, such as alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. People who do not smoke but suffer from long-term severe asthma are also at risk of developing COPD. This disease can also be caused by long-term exposure to air pollution, fumes and dust from the environment or your place of work.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of COPD include:
- Shortness of breath, especially during physical activities
- Tightness in the chest area
- Producing excess mucus in your lungs
- Chronic coughs that produces sputum that may be clear, white, yellow or greenish
- Blueness of the lips or fingernail beds (cyanosis)
- Frequent respiratory infections
- Lack of energy
In later stages of the disease, individuals who suffer from COPD may also experience the following:
- Weight loss
- Ankle swelling
- Loss of appetite
These symptoms may surface all the time, or they might appear or get worse when you have an infection, or breathe in smoke or fumes.
How can you treat it?
The damage that COPD causes to the lungs is irreversible. However, symptoms may be controlled with medication and smoking cessation. One of the most important measures is to stop smoking completely (if you smoke). This slows disease progression and improves the survival rate. There are several treatments for COPD. All are aimed at managing the symptoms of the disease. These include:
- Diets for healthy lungs
- Medications such as inhalers
- Vaccinations against pneumonia and influenza
- Pulmonary rehabilitation
- Smoking cessation programmes
- Lung strengthening exercises
Take home points:
- Quit Smoking
- Exercise (Read more: 3 Short and Simple Lung Exercises for a Healthier You)
- Proper Diet (Read more: 5 Foods to Eat for Healthy Lungs)
If you or someone you know suffer from COPD and requires specialist consultation or treatment, Call our friendly medical concierge at +65 6679 7867 or email us at email@example.com and we will be on hand to assist you.