Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD is a group of diseases that cause airflow blockage and breathing-related problems.
If anyone you know suffers from breathing difficulties, it could be a sign that they have COPD and it’s best to advise them to consult their doctors about it as soon as possible. In the past, it has affected more men than women and was thought to be a primarily men’s disease, but in later times, it has become the third leading cause of death for women that is because of the lifestyle change from the old times to the modern years.
In the US, the leading cause of COPD is tobacco smoke. However, exposure to other air pollutants, genetics, and recurring respiratory infections can also play a part. While there might be a genetic component that might make you more likely to get it. It is not contagious.
Because there are so many variations in the diseases that manifest as COPD, there is no single test for it. There is also no cure, only treatment. Based on symptoms, your doctor will determine a course of treatment. Your medical team may include a pulmonologist and physical and respiratory therapists who will work toward treatments that work best for you.
Reference: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Why does Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease affect more women now than men?
1. In the 1960s, cigarette ads targeted women.
2. Women’s lungs are smaller and estrogen can play a role in worsening lung disease.
3. Because it was previously more of a men’s disease, doctors still often misdiagnose or underdiagnose women.
If you feel your female loved one has been misdiagnosed, advocate for the doctors to take a second look. Early diagnosis and treatment are key.
Source: American Lung Association
People with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) are not considered to be at a higher risk of COVID-19. They are, however, at a higher risk of having complications and poorer outcomes should they contract the virus. As with any at-risk community, please follow all guidelines for maximum protection.
Source: University of Maryland Medical System
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Symptoms
Symptoms are often mild at first, leading people to brush them off. There can be some intermittent coughing or shortness of breath. However, the symptoms will progressively worsen and become harder to ignore. It is time to see the doctor when you see one or more of the following symptoms:
1. Shortness of breath, after even mild exercise such as walking up a flight of stairs.
3. Chest tightness.
4. Chronic cough, with or without mucus.
5. Need to clear mucus from the lungs every day.
6. Frequent colds, flu, or other respiratory infections.
7. Lack of energy.
8. Swelling of the feet or ankles.
9. Unexplainable weight loss.
Symptoms Requiring Immediate Medical Care:
1. Bluish or gray fingernails or lips.
2. Confusion or faintness.
3. A racing heart.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Treatment
While COPD is incurable, it can be treated and managed with great success. Some of the things that a physician may suggest include:
1. Quitting smoking.
2. Avoiding secondhand smoke and other pollutants.
3. Plenty of fluids.
4. Nutritional supplements and eating habits to boost overall health.
5. A monitored exercise program.
6. Pulmonary rehabilitation.
7. Medication, which might include daily and emergency inhalers.
8. the annual flu and pneumonia vaccine.
9. Quick intervention in the case of flu or other respiratory infections.
10. Supplemental oxygen.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Healthline
Benefits of Quitting Smoking
If your loved one is a smoker, and if you are also their caregiver, it’s best to advise them that they will need to quit to either ward off or manage existing COPD more effectively.
20 minutes: The heart rate drops and returns to normal. Blood pressure begins to drop, and circulation may start to improve.
12 hours: The carbon monoxide level in their blood returns to normal.
12 weeks: Their chance of a heart attack decreases, and their lung function improves.
9 months: Their coughing and shortness of breath due to smoking will decrease.
1 year: Their excess risk of heart disease is half of that of a person who is still smoking.
5 years: The risk of stroke is dramatically decreased.
10 years: The risk of lung cancer is half of that of a person who is still smoking.
20 years: The risk of lung disease and cancer is that of a person who has never smoked.
Source: COPD.com and Medical News Today
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