Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a common and progressive lung disease that often results from smoking and is a leading cause of death, with an estimated 30 million cases in the US alone. It’s often treated with a combination of smoking cessation, medication, oxygen therapy, and pulmonary rehabilitation programs.
Symptoms can be subtle, but COPD is diagnosed through a combination of medical history, lung function tests, chest x-rays, CT scans, arterial blood gas analysis, and laboratory tests. Fortunately, you can learn everything you need to know about COPD with a search online right now, which could help you spot early symptoms.
COPD is a lung disease that affects the airways and makes it difficult to breathe. It is a progressive condition that gets worse over time and is typically caused by smoking, though exposure to air pollution and lung infections can also lead to COPD.
The disease is characterized by inflammation of the lungs, which leads to mucus build-up that obstructs airflow and makes breathing difficult. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the most common types of COPD. Refractory asthma is a type of asthma that cannot be treated with typical medications, and can also contribute to COPD.
Early Warning Signs
The symptoms of COPD are often subtle at first and may resemble other respiratory illnesses. However, over time, they become more severe and can lead to complications such as extreme fatigue, swelling of the feet, ankles, or legs, and unexplained weight loss.
Common symptoms include coughing, wheezing, fatigue, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and lung infections. Seeking medical attention is important if you notice any of these symptoms.
COPD symptoms will only become worse and more severe over time, and they will not go away or get better on their own. Seeking medical attention is crucial if you experience blue or gray fingernails or lips, trouble catching your breath to the point where you have trouble speaking, feeling confused or faint, or a racing heartbeat.
Diagnosing and Treating COPD
COPD can be diagnosed through a combination of medical history, lung function tests, chest x-rays, CT scans, arterial blood gas analysis, and laboratory tests. Treatment options include smoking cessation, medication, oxygen therapy, and pulmonary rehabilitation programs.
The most common medications include:
- Inhaled steroids
- Combination inhalers
- Oral steroids
- Phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitors
Additional therapies such as oxygen therapy and pulmonary rehabilitation programs can also be used to help treat moderate to severe cases of COPD.
COPD is a progressive lung disease that can be caused by smoking, air pollution, and lung infections. Symptoms can be subtle at first, but they become more severe over time and can lead to complications. Seeking medical attention is important if you experience any of the warning signs of COPD.
Early diagnosis is key in order to reduce symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease. Treatment options include smoking cessation, medication, oxygen therapy, and pulmonary rehabilitation programs.