What is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease?
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is an accumulation of lung illnesses. There are different types of lung diseases, all of which are grouped under the COPD umbrella. They are usually progressive and affect the lungs severely. The most prevalent sorts of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases are; chronic bronchitis and emphysema. It is possible for one person to suffer from both of them at the same time.
Emphysema gradually destroys the air sacs of the lungs and interferes with the outward flow of air, while chronic bronchitis, on the other hand, causes the narrowing and inflammation of the bronchial tubes, which eventually causes the excessive build-up of mucus.
According to medical researches, most people who suffer from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease did not know they had it. When Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is left untreated over a long period of time, a faster progression of the lung-damaging process begins. This process can lead to heart problems, worsen your already terrible respiratory issues and expose you to respiratory infections.
Symptoms of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Being a lung disease that it is, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease makes it difficult for anyone to breathe. Though the symptoms of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease can be mild at the onset, this is why most people who have it do not know they have it. Symptoms begin with shortness of breath, wheezing, and constant and frequent coughing. With time, symptoms develop and worsen. They become more frequent with extra breathing difficulties.
Other symptoms that patients of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease experience are tightness of the chest and wheezing, which comes in handy with the production of excess sputum.
Early Signs and Symptoms
- The symptoms of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease can easily be mistaken for the common cold. However, the early symptoms of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease are usually mild, and they include;
- Frequent episodes of shortness of breath, especially after exercises. You may not count this symptom as anything, but it could be a pointer to something.
- Mild cough, but recurrent and frequent
- The need to clear your throat every time, especially in the morning
When you notice these symptoms, it is best to avoid activities that would trigger these symptoms, like exercising and walking up and downstairs.
Chronic Signs and Symptoms
At this point, the mild symptoms must have worsened and become more obvious. This is usually as a result of negligence or leaving the illness untreated for a long period of time. When the lung experiences more damage, symptoms like the following may begin to surface;
- Shortness of breath after doing even the tiniest of things like walking over a short distance and walking upstairs
- Chronic cough, sometimes dry and without mucus
- Tightness of chest and wheezing, with short intervals between each episode
- A feeling of clogged lungs and the need to clear mucus from your lungs, especially in the morning
- Weakness and lack of energy
- Frequent flu and cold episodes
More severe symptoms include;
- Weight loss
- Swollen ankles, feet, and legs
- Symptoms become worse if you are a smoker or if you are frequently exposed to smoke.
When the above-listed symptoms become severe, it is important to seek medical help. Complications of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease include;
- Racing and thumping heart
- Difficulty catching your breath, even when you talk and say few sentences.
- Grey or bluish fingernails and lips-an indicator of low oxygen in the blood
- Felling of confusion and extreme fatigue
Causes of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
According to medical research, people who suffer from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease are at least 40 years old and have a memoir of smoking. Your risks of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease grow with how frequently you smoke and how much tobacco content you have in your blood. Asides from cigarettes, other lifestyle habits like secondhand smoke, cigar, and pipe smoke can also increase your Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease risks.
Other Causes of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Include;
- Exposure to chemicals and fumes from workplaces can also cause Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
- Exposure to dust for a very long time and inhalation of certain pollutants can also heighten your risks of suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
- Asides from tobacco smoking, exposure to fumes from burning fuel while cooking and in the process of room heating is also a leading cause of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
- Genetics being a causal factor of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is quite rare. Genetics is the cause of only 5% of people living with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease affects the liver and causes the lungs to decline and deteriorate. Some other factors like genetics can also be a cause of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease but on rare occasions.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Diagnosis
The determination of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is based on the symptoms and complaints of the patient. Then physical examinations and tests can then be carried out to confirm if the symptoms are for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or common cold.
The most important thing is, reporting all the symptoms to your doctor without leaving anyone out. Also, inform the doctor of your medical history in detail and answer questions about your lifestyle and habits correctly. Do not hide any data from your doctor and tell them if;
- You get exposed to secondhand smoke
- You have asthma
- You are exposed to compounds that irritate your lungs
- You smoke currently or used to smoke in the past
- You have Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease in your family history
- You have taken any medications for it, and what medications you took
This therapy involves the use of nasal cannula or oxygen masks to supply oxygen into your lungs when your blood is low on oxygen. Oxygen therapy helps you breathe better and relieves your difficulty in breathing.
Surgery is only suggested when other therapies seem not to be effective on the disease. Sometimes severe cases of emphysema require surgery. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease surgery involves the surgical removal of abnormally large air spaces from the lungs. Another form of surgery involves the removal of damaged tissues from the upper lungs. This surgery is effective in the improvement of breathing. However, a few Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease undergo this surgical process.
In some severe cases, lung transplantation is advised. This totally cures and eliminates the disease.
Some lifestyle adjustments can also help treat Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and improve symptoms. Some of these lifestyle changes should include
- Putting an end to smoking
- Avoiding environment that always has smoke incidents
- Adoption of healthy nutrition, especially one that is healthy for your lungs
- Exercise safely
Recommended Diets for People Living With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
There is no known diet for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. However, eating a balanced diet and adopting a lung-friendly diet would go a long way. Varieties of nutritious foods you could pick from include;
In addition, avoid excess salt or reduce your intake of salt, as salt makes the body retain water, which is capable of causing your breathing to get strained.
Drink plenty of water and other healthy beverages. Avoid caffeinated drinks as they may interact with your drugs and medications. If you have heart disease, speak to your doctor about what liquid beverages you should take.
When your stomach is too full, your lungs find it difficult to expand, which can lead to shortness of breath. If you notice that you find it difficult to breathe after food, do the following to remedy it;
- Take smaller bites of foods, chew slowly, and swallow gently
- Clear your airway about 1 hour to your mealtime
- Drink water after food so that you will not feel full while you are still eating
- Breakdown three square meals a day into five or six smaller meals
- Avoid or quit smoking
- Engage yourself in physical exercises
- Eat nutritious foods
- Practice good personal hygiene
- Clean your house and avoid dust
In conclusion, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is a disease of the lungs that could easily be mistaken for the common cold as a result of their similar symptoms. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease progresses and worsens faster in people with underlying respiratory diseases. Preventing it includes avoiding cigarettes and every other kind of smoke, as well as adopting a healthy feeding and eating habit.