Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)- AwarenesssteemCreated with Sketch.

in #steemstem5 years ago

This is yet another Life threatening ailment. COPD is a general term for other underlying lung diseases like Asthma, Emphasema and Chronic bronchitis. This disease is treatable and can be properly managed with effective care.However, if not properly managed, it can lead to lung cancer, high blood pressure and heart diseases.

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The good part is that COPD generally takes a long time to develop. Anyone who is currently practicing one or more of the risk factors; has the opportunity to stop and prevent a nasty future. COPD currently has no cure, symptoms can only be managed. Let's take a closer look:

COPD is a type of obstructive lung disease characterised by long-term breathing problems and poor air flow.

Someone who has COPD may not even realize it until considerable damage has been done to the lungs. Mild COPD symptoms are similar to that of common cold; the difference is that COPD symptoms worsen over time.

Symptoms of COPD

The main symptoms of COPD are shortness of breath and cough with sputum(this is the coughed up substance from the lower airways) production. Not all coughs with sputum is a symptom of COPD; however, if the cough lasts for 3 months consecutively and occurs yearly, this is an early indication of COPD.

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Shortness of breath is also a very common symptom of COPD. If you feel like you have to put in effort in order to breath or your not just getting enough air, please consult a doctor.

Other symptoms include wheezing and chest tightness. Advanced COPD leads to high pressure on the lung arteries, which strains the right ventricle of the heart. (These symptom leads to leg swelling,bulging neck veins and eventually to heart diseases).

Causes And Risk Factors

The primary cause/risk factor of COPD is smoking( be it tobacco smoking, pipe or marijuana smoking or even passive smoking).Most smokers over the age of 40 are at risk of developing COPD. In all life long smokers, half of them will develop COPD in thier lifetime. You should definitely reconsider your smoking habit if your currently a smoker.

Exposure to dangerous fumes and Air pollution is another cause/risk factor. Dangerous fumes are basically any unhealthy fume. Examples are high levels of dust, different types chemicals, high levels of CO2, Poor ventilation and so on. If one is intensely exposed to all these on the long term, chances of developing COPD is greatly increased even if the person never smokes.

Genetics play another key role. A person who is related to someone who has COPD and then combines this with other risk factors, has an increased chance of developing COPD.

COPD is diagnosed basically by the symptoms present. When a suspicion is made, a spirometry test is carried out to ascertain lung functionality. Imaging tests like x-ray or CT scan is done to confirm how damaged the lung is. Blood tests are also carried out to help make precise diagnosis.

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Screening those without symptoms is not usually necessary. There are many lung related diseases that display similar symptoms to COPD(examples are asthma, tuberculosis, congestive heart failure and pneumonia); this is why various tests and questionaires have to be carried out in order for COPD to be properly diagnosed.

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Prevention, Management and Treatment

COPD can be prevented by reducing the risk factors. Once a smoker is able to quit smoking, this greatly reduces his susceptibility. It is never easy to quit as smoking is very addictive, but with will power and help(getting help from anti smoking organisations or products), it is very possible. A COPD patient who is in advanced stages of COPD can greatly slow down his lung damage if he totally quits smoking.

Educating people who are at occupational risks(like workers in textile factories, coal mining industry,construction and so on) will help the worker know his susceptibility chances and try to reduce it. A lot of procedures have currently been set up to this effect in some major companies. Dust ventilators have been set up and at regular intervals, workers are checked for early signs of COPD.However, some smaller companies are still unaware.And do not have much protective measures.If you are exposed to unhealthy fumes and air pollution, try and do all you can to change the situation.This step will help you live longer and healthier.

COPD currently has no cure but all symptoms can be managed effectively. Bronchodilators(help reduce shortness of breath and wheezing) inhaler and corticosteroids(which prevents acute exacerbations) inhaler or tablet are the most common treatments given to help reduce symptoms.

Long term antibiotics can also be given as this helps prevent respiratory infections which could worsen the situation.

Surgery can also be performed in cases where the COPD has damaged the lungs extensively or if other treatments are not effective. A lung transplant or a lung volume reduction surgery could be performed.

COPD is the 4th killer disease in the world after heart diseases, stroke and lower respiratory infections. COPD could even lead to this top 3 killer diseases if not treated properly.

I hope i have been able to enlighten you about COPD.Please do your part in reducing your risk factors and make sure to report any suspicious symptoms to your doctor.

Thank you for reading.

Till my next post, Stay healthy...


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