The Symptoms and Treatment of COPD
COPD: Pathology and Symptoms
COPD is an acronym for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease where you may suffer from breathing difficulties and the delivery of less oxygen into the bloodstream. This illness is usually caused by other underlying factors such as exposure to harmful environmental elements or smoking. Interestingly enough, two other disorders are often times present: chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Bronchitis can narrow airways while emphysema will damage the alveoli within the lungs; increasing breathing difficulties.
Parameters that define COPD include:
- Exposure to harmful chemicals.
- An illness that will progressively worsen over time.
- The concurrence of other respiratory illnesses.
- A narrowing of the trachea, damage to alveoli and scarring of the lung walls.
The main indicators will present themselves normally as extreme difficulty breathing, decreasing oxygen levels in the blood and poor circulation, often mirroring asthma symptoms at first. Notwithstanding these outward indicators, doctors will often at times find what is known as a fibrosis of the lung walls. This is defined as a thickening and a scarring that indicates superficial damage. An excess amount of mucous may also be present and the patient will frequently become tired when performing physical tasks, potentially reaching the point where even daily activities are difficult to accomplish.
It is worth noting that COPD can also cause lung cancer.
Primary indicators that COPD may be present are:
- Symptoms that are similar to asthma.
- Lower oxygen levels in the blood.
- A fibrosis of the lung walls.
- An excess amount of mucous.
- Difficulty in performing daily tasks.
One aspect of this illness that must be made clear is that there is no cure. Rather, treatment options involve managing the illness more effectively. This treatment will include many patient-oriented activities such as avoiding tobacco, regular exercise, avoiding respiratory illnesses and changing one's diet to improve circulation and heart function.
Such lifestyle changes must include:
- The immediate cessation of smoking.
- An increase in activity levels.
- Changing one's diet to increase circulation and heart health.
- When possible, avoiding respiratory illnesses.
Additionally, there are different medicines that will be taken in conjunction with the aforementioned lifestyle changes. Including:
- Bronchodilators (chemicals that relax the airway).
- Corticosteroids can be used as a treatment for COPD if it flares up (which can often happens).
- Anticholinergics can also lessen the frequency of acute bouts, but all of these chemicals must be monitored over time.
- For those with more advanced stages of COPD, supplemental oxygen tanks can be used when performing activities or for travelling.