COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
Lungs in COPD: In a normal person, airways get smaller towards their ends like tree branches. There are bubble-like air pockets at the end of each branch. In healthy individuals all airways are open. Whereas in COPD patients the walls of the airways get thicker, swollen and they become narrower inside. So less air enters the lungs and the air which has entered cannot be emptied entirely, thus breathing becomes difficult. This is a progressive disease.
Who would have COPD?It is seen in adults over 40 and not seen in children, Most of the patients are currently smokers, former smokers or passive smokers. COPD is also seen in people living in houses where the house gets full of fumes from the oven or stove heater used for cooking or heating purposes Additionally people who have worked in dusty or smoky places for years are likely to develop COPD.
What are the symptoms of COPD?
1. Coughing that has been progressing for a long time.
2. Sputum production. (mostly in the mornings)
3. Difficulty in breathing which is due to narrowing of the airways.
How is COPD diagnosed?
COPD is usually a late diagnosed disease. Smokers, people who work in dusty, smoky environments and people with prolonged sputum, coughing or difficulty in breathing complaints over 40 are very likely to develop COPD. These people must see a doctor at once. The risk factors and complaints of the patient as well as respiratory function tests are important for diagnosis.
How is COPD treated?The most significant treatment is to QUIT SMOKING. If the person is working in a dusty, smoky environment the required precautions should be adopted. The medications given by your doctor should be taken regularly and a careful follow up is necessary.
Treatment of COPD with medication: Your medication might be in the form of inhalers (sprays), pills or syrup. Your doctor will choose the right medication according to the severity of your disease.
What should be done in order to reduce the damage of the disease?Quit smoking. Use your medication regularly and do not miss your doctor controls. Ventilate your house often; avoid smoke and fumes that impair your breathing. Ask your doctor for breathing exercises. Walk regularly. Eat healthily. If you are overweight lose weight and if you are too slim you can take additional nutrients with the help of a dietician. Do not go outside when it is too cold. Get a flu shot with the recommendation of your doctor each year in autumn. Do not stay constipated. Limit your salt intake. If you comply with these suggestions your complaints will fade and your life quality would be improved.
Do not panic if your doctor tells you that you have COPD, because COPD is a treatable disease and progression of the disease can be stopped with contemporary treatment methods. Your complaints will decrease and your life quality will be improved.
And never forget that it is never late to quit smoking!