What is COPD?
COPD stands for the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. This is the name used to describe a number of conditions including emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Emphysema affects the air sacs in your lungs (alveoli), and chronic bronchitis affects your airways (bronchi). COPD is a condition where the airways become inflamed and the air sacs in your lungs are damaged. This causes your airways to become narrower, which makes it harder to breathe in and out. Therefore, people with COPD have breathing difficulties, and this can affect many aspects of your day-to-day life. Unfortunately, there is no cure for COPD, but there are lots of treatments available to help you manage your condition, improve your symptoms and live an active life.
Signs & Symptoms of COPD
Unfortunately, you may not notice symptoms or tell-tale signs of the Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) until it is in the advanced stages. However, you need to pay attention to signs such as:
- Breathlessness. Don’t ignore this sign as something that comes with age. It is not normal, and you need to consult your doctor ASAP
- A persistent cough that will not go away
- Coughing up a lot of phlegm or sputum regularly
- If your phlegm or sputum is red or rust-ish in color
- If your lip turn blue or even your nails
- If you feel tired or experience fatigue all the time
- If you have a fever over 101 F
- If you feel lightheaded, nauseous or dizzy
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, you should consult your doctor.
What Treatments are Available for COPD?
To treat COPD, just relying on treatment won’t work. There are lifestyle changes you need to adhere to as well. They are:
If you are addicted to smoking, then the single most important treatment for COPD is to quit it. Giving up will stop the on-going damage to your airways caused by cigarette smoke. It is the most important treatment to reduce the chance of your condition becoming worse.
The main treatment of COPD involves inhalers which include long or short-acting bronchodilator. If you experience sudden episodes of breathlessness or chest tightness your doctor might prescribe a short-acting bronchodilator inhaler. This relaxes the muscles in your airways to keep them as open as possible and relieves breathlessness. If your symptoms occur every day, you will be given a long-acting bronchodilator inhaler. This works in the same way as a short-acting inhaler, but the effects of the medication last for at least 12 hours. You may have to take inhaler medications daily for months as advised by the doctor which will help to keep your disease under control. Always adhere to the medication prescribed by your Doctor.
When you have a chronic breathing disease, it is important to eat well to prevent infections and keep your lungs healthy. It is also essential to make sure you are the correct weight.
When you have a lung condition, it is important to be as active as you can and to exercise safely. In some areas, you can attend pulmonary rehabilitation – a programme of exercise that helps with breathlessness by improving your muscle strength and lung fitness. This makes it easier for you to carry out everyday activities.
Make sure you get vaccinations against flu and pneumonia to avoid getting infections in winter.
If the level of oxygen in your blood is too low when you are resting, or if the level drops when you are active, you might need oxygen treatment. This is used to increase the amount of oxygen that flows into your lungs and bloodstream.
Assisted Breathing Using Ventilation
If an infection is making your breathing too difficult, you might need the support of a breathing machine. This is usually provided in the hospital. It can also be given at home if your condition is very severe. It also takes some of the effort out of breathing because your chest muscles don’t have to work as hard, so it helps to ease the feeling of breathlessness.
If you are struggling emotionally, talking to your family or a health care professional can help. It is very important to stay active and sociable and to learn more about COPD.
Disclaimer: The above information has been prepared by a qualified medical professional and may not represent the practices followed universally. The suggestions listed in this article constitute relatively common advice given to patients, and since every patient is different, you are advised to consult your physician, if in doubt, before acting upon this information. Lupin Limited has only facilitated the distribution of this information to you in the interest of patient education and welfare.