A Complete Guide on Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Dec 12, 2022

Chronic care

A Complete Guide on Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is an inflammatory lung condition that causes airflow blockage in the lungs. COPD is caused by long-term exposure to toxic gases or specific matter, but most often from smoking.

Most people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease commonly have both emphysema and bronchitis. Although COPD progresses and gets worse over time, it is still treatable. With proper management, most people with COPD can achieve a good quality of life and mitigate the risk of other related conditions.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: An Overview

COPD is a common, treatable pulmonary disease that affects an individual’s lungs. Irregularities in the airways of the lungs often leads to restricted airflow in and out of the lungs. Several factors can cause the airways to become narrow. There may be the collapse in essential parts of the lung, mucus blockage, or inflammation of the airway lining.

COPD commonly occurs due to emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Emphysema usually refers to the descent of air sacs in the lungs. A cough with phlegm production in the airways is attributed to chronic bronchitis.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Symptoms

Early signs and symptoms of COPD many times don't arise until substantial lung damage, and they worsen over time, particularly if the patient smokes. COPD symptoms may include

  • Shortness of breath during physical movements
  • Wheezing
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing that produces transparent, white, yellow, or green mucus
  • Frequent respiratory conditions
  • Nausea
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Swelling in the ankles, feet, or legs

Patients with COPD are also likely to experience worsening sensations in the body, during which COPD symptoms become worse than the normal days and persist for at least several days.

Early Signs of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Most people with COPD experience it when symptoms are more severe, depending on the amount of lung damage. In some cases, lung damage is possible without having any noticeable symptoms. The four early signs of COPD include.

  • Consistent Coughing
    One of the early signs of COPD is usually a long-term chronic cough. Although the lungs typically respond to irritation that causes coughing, a chronic cough indicates that the lungs aren't generally working.
  • Mucus Production
    In COPD, coughing starts progressing and leads to a second early-stage symptom producing a large amount of mucus. At this stage, the lungs create mucus from tobacco smoking, and other irritants can produce more than the average amount of mucus.
  • Breath Shortage
    Shortness of breath or breathlessness occurs when the lungs take more effort than their usual nature to move air in and out. Initially, breathlessness may start only with increased physical activity, such as playing sports or walking.
  • Exhaustion
    Exhaustion or fatigue is another early sign of COPD. Patients may experience feeling tired quicker than before, and loss of stamina may also occur.

Treatment of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that COPD was the fourth-leading cause of death in the United States in 2016. Therefore, timely treatment is critical to diagnose and treat COPD before it turns fatal.

In COPD treatment, doctors review the patient's symptoms, and family or medical history. They will also address any exposure to lung irritants. Doctors may conduct tests such as pulmonary functioning, x-ray, CT scans, and lab tests. Based on test the results, doctors will initiate treatment procedures. Standard recommendations include:

  • Quitting tobacco consumption and cigarette smoking
  • Taking proper medications and steroids as prescribed
  • Taking lung therapies such as oxygen therapy
  • Performing surgical procedures to treat the severity

Need Professional Help to Stay Healthy? Contact Newnan Family Medicine

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can cause permanent lung damage. However, you can minimize symptoms by starting treatment earlier. At Newnan Family Medicine, we focus on three key aspects, weight control, medications, and dietary and lifestyle changes that will improve your chance of living an everyday life.

Receiving the correct treatment for your lungs is critical. At Newnan Family Medicine, our expertise with lung treatment will help get you connected with the proper diagnosis and medical treatment. Schedule an appointment today.

Also read:

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