Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD is a broad term for diseases such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Just like any other respiratory disease, these diseases also cause difficulty in breathing thus affecting our routine lives. If conditions remain undiagnosed and untreated, they can lead to permanent and irreversible lung damage. COPD is a progressive condition of the respiratory tract showing mild symptoms initially that intensify with time. The correct diagnosis followed by the required precise treatment can slow down and eventually cure it.
What Is COPD – Causes, Symptoms, Treatment – Dr. Sheetu Singh
Although many of the symptoms resemble, there is a difference between COPD and Asthma. COPD is a chronic condition that is mostly caused by smoking. Asthma, however, is also a chronic disease but is triggered by a variety of allergens. It is certainly possible, a person might have both conditions and hence would require treatment for both.
Causes of COPD:
The major cause of COPD is smoking tobacco which accounts for 90% of the diagnosed cases but there are other possible causes too.
- Air pollutants that can damage our airways.
- Passive smoking i.e., inhaling the smoke released by the smoker.
- Absence of alpha-1 antitrypsin which is an enzyme that protects our lungs from the effects of inflammation. Lack of this enzyme can lead to emphysema. This makes it a genetic disorder too but is uncommon.
- Pollutants present at the workplace that include smoke, dust, fumes, etc.
Symptoms of COPD are not noticeable unless there is remarkable lung damage affecting our breathing patterns and routine lives. The condition progressively worsens if remains unnoticed for a longer period.
- The symptoms include any of the following:
- Difficulty in breathing, especially during any physical activity
- Wheezing sound (such as observed in asthma)
- Chest congestion
- Production of mucus increases
- In severe cases, the color of mucus changes with time, also there is a specific odor produced
- Presence of blood in sputum
- Loss of weight in later stages
- Increased and frequent respiratory infections
Symptoms can worsen if a person continues to smoke or is exposed to smoke regularly.
If you observe any of the above-mentioned symptoms, especially if they are regular or there is the presence of blood in the sputum, you must immediately consult your health expert. A pulmonologist can help you diagnose the exact condition and prescribe the medication needed for immediate relief as well as a prolonged cure. Dr. Sheetu Singh is a known pulmonologist who has hands-on experience in curing such long-lasting ailments. Book an appointment if you observe any of such symptoms, or your lips and nails turning blue lately for expert advice.
Treatment for COPD can be a blend of medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes. If the condition is severe, surgeries can be recommended, especially in cases of severe lung damage.
Medication includes the use of bronchodilators and corticosteroids. Bronchodilators are taken usually by an inhaler or a nebulizer and help to reduce the tightness of the muscle present around our airways. Corticosteroids can help to lower the production of mucus and can reduce inflammation.
A person who has developed this condition is also advised to make changes in their lifestyle that includes: –
- Balanced diet to provide nutrition to the body
- Regular physical activity
- Avoid smoking, both active and passive.
- Taking regular medication as prescribed.