Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Smoking is the leading cause of COPD. The 15% persons who smoke develops COPD. However, some people smoke for years and never get COPD.
Other risk factors for COPD are:
Exposure to certain gases or fumes in the workplace
Exposure to heavy amounts of second hand smoke and pollution
Frequent use of cooking fire without proper ventilation (Ladies in India)
• Cough, with mucus and winter aggravation.
• Repeated respiratory infections
• Shortness of breath (dyspnea) that gets worse with mild activity
• Trouble catching one's breath
• Weight loss
• Because the symptoms of COPD develop slowly, some people may not know that they are sick.
Signs and tests:
The best test for COPD is a lung function test called ‘spirometry’. This involves blowing out as hard as possible into a small machine that tests lung capacity. The results can be checked right away.
Using a stethoscope to listen to the lungs can also be helpful. However, sometimes the lungs sound normal even when COPD is present.
Pictures of the lungs (such as x-rays and CT scans) can be helpful, but sometimes look normal even when a person has COPD.
Sometimes patients need to have a blood test (arterial blood gas) to measure the amounts of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood.
Remember “There is no cure for COPD”. However, there are many things you can do to relieve symptoms and keep the disease from getting worse or slow down the progress.
Persons with COPD, MUST STOP smoking. This is the best way to slow down the lung damage.
Medications used to treat COPD include:
Inhalers (bronchodilators) to open the airways, such as ipratropium , tiotropium, Formoterol or Salbutamol and Inhaled steroids to reduce lung inflammation.
In severe cases or during flare-ups, you may need to receive:
Steroids by mouth or through a vein (intravenously)
Bronchodilators through a nebulizer
Assistance during breathing from a machine (through BiPAP, or endotracheal tube)
Antibiotics are prescribed during symptom flare-ups, because infections can make COPD worse.
You may need oxygen therapy (sometimes at home if you have a low level of oxygen in your blood.)
Pulmonary rehabilitation does not cure the lung disease, but it can teach you to breathe in a different way so you can stay active. Exercise can help maintain muscle strength in the legs.
Walk to build up strength.
Try not to talk when you walk if you get short of breath.
Use pursed lip breathing when breathing out (to empty your lungs before the next breath)
Eat a healthy diet with high protein like fish, poultry, egg or lean meat, as well as fruits and vegetables. If it is hard to keep your weight up, talk to a doctor or dietician about eating foods with more calories.
Surgery: partial collapse of bad lung which is having air trap may be used by bronchoscopey.
COPD is a long-term (chronic) illness. The disease will get worse more quickly if you do not stop smoking.
Patients with severe COPD will be short of breath with most activities and will be admitted to the hospital more often. These patients should talk with their doctor about breathing machines and end-of-life care.
Irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)
Need for breathing machine and oxygen therapy
Right-sided heart failure or cor pulmonale
Severe weight loss and malnutrition
Thinning of the bones (osteoporosis)
Not smoking prevents most COPD.