We’ve all heard of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). But do you know what it exactly is? COPD results from frequent inflammation of the lungs and causes breathing trouble. It is a disorder that limits the airflow in and out of your lungs. Does it go away soon? Unfortunately, COPD is a long-term disorder. It includes diseases like chronic bronchitis, emphysema and refractory or non-reversible asthma.
How does COPD make breathing difficult?
There are numerous air sacks inside your lungs that help you breathe. But COPD makes them lose their elasticity so that they cannot function well. The air sacks expand and cannot shrink back. So your lungs cannot force out all the air you breathe in – some air remains trapped in the sacks. That is how your breathing problems start.
How can you identify COPD?
Do you cough frequently? It could be a sign of COPD. Let’s look at all the signs of this condition so that you can easily identify them later.
The common symptoms are-
- Breathing difficulty and wheezing.
- Tightness in the chest.
- Mucus build-up in the lungs and sinuses.
- Coughing up greenish mucus.
- Blue tinge of lips and fingernails.
- Swelling of feet and ankles.
- Weight gain.
- Frequent lung infections.
What are the varying degrees of COPD?
Does the intensity of this disease differ from person to person? Yes actually! A few tests such as pulmonary function tests, chest X rays, walking tests, etc can tell a doctor in what stage the patient is.
There are 4 stages of COPD-
- Stage 1 or Mild COPD: The person’s lungs are 80% functional.
- Stage 2 or Moderate COPD: Lung function is between 50-80%.
- Stage 3 or Severe COPD: Lungs are functioning at 30-50% of normal.
- Stage 4 or Very Severe COPD: This is end-stage COPD when the lungs barely work and there is very little oxygen in the person’s blood.
How to prevent COPD?
It is important to know what causes COPD so that you can avoid the triggers and prevent this disease-
Like puffing on a cigarette? Time to put an end to it! Smoking damages our lungs in many ways and reduces their functionality. Smoking has been found to be the main culprit in most of the registered cases of this illness. Avoid cigarettes, cigars, pipes and all tobacco products.
- Second-hand smoking
Second-hand smoke is almost as harmful to your lungs as smoking.
People in cities have a greater risk of getting COPD as they are always breathing in polluted air.
If someone you are related to by blood has COPD, you may contract it.
COPD can be lethal if you do not get treatment. Take immediate steps to ensure that COPD doesn’t find a place in your life.