Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

COPD doesn’t just refer to a particular type of disease . It refers to a group of diseases that affects the lungs. These diseases are progressive. That is to say that with time symptoms associated with this disease worsen.

A person can suffer one or even more than one of COPD at the same time. COPD is mostly found among people who smoke, but asthmatic patients who smoke are at a higher risk of developing COPD. It has also been linked to constant exposure to very harmful chemicals. COPD could also be genetic but it isn’t contagious.

1. Symptoms of COPD

There are a wide range of symptoms associated with COPD which are likely to worsen if treatment is not taken. Some of these symptoms includes swelling in joints mostly in the leg, fatigue, low oxygen level in the blood characterized by bluish or grey lips, loss of breath and constantly feeling dizzy. But symptoms can deteriorate, if there is continuous exposure to risk factors like smoking.

2. Types of COPD

There are two main types of COPD –chronic bronchitis and emphysema

  • Chronic bronchitis:

Chronic bronchitis is the constant inflammation in the lining of the bronchial tubes these results in the build up of large amount of sticky mucus in the airways, restricting airflow in the lungs.

With the passage of time this obstruction of the airways worsens and results in very difficult breathing and increased production of mucus. Symptoms associated with chronic bronchitis worsen over time if treatment is not taken.

  • Emphysema:

Emphysema is the gradual thinning of the alveoli and with time passage the alveoli is totally destroyed. Emphysema causes shortness of breath and constant cough. Emphysema is mainly caused by cigarette smoking. Emphysema cannot be cured but there are effective treatments to reduce symptoms associated with emphysema.

3. Treatment of COPD

There is no cure for COPD but there are very effective treatments to slow progression of the disease and reduce symptoms associated with the disease. Some of these treatments include;
• Bronchodilators: These are inhaled medicines that help to improve breathing.
• Glucocorticosteroids: These are anti inflammation medications.
• Oxygen therapy: Advised for people with low oxygen levels.
• Lung transplant: When other treatments have failed and symptoms becomes worse your doctor may advice a lung transplant to get rid of the infected lung.

Image courtesy of: clinsite.com.

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