Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are two conditions that fall in the category of illnesses referred to as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. As COPD progresses, breathing becomes increasingly challenging. Changes in lifestyle and medicine can help control the symptoms of lung disease, but the damage cannot be reversed.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
An ongoing inflammatory lung condition that prevents air from leaving the lungs is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Breathing problems, coughing up mucus (sputum), and wheezing are among the symptoms. Long-term exposure to irritating chemicals or particulate matter—most frequently from cigarette smoke—is usually the cause of it.
Heart disease, lung cancer, and a host of other ailments are more likely to strike those with COPD. The two main illnesses that cause COPD are emphysema and chronic bronchitis. These two conditions usually coexist, and individuals with COPD may experience them to differing degrees of severity.
The symptoms of COPD frequently take longer to appear, especially if smoking persists, and they usually increase after major lung damage occurs. The chronic obstructive pulmonary disease symptoms and indicators might include:
- Breathing difficulty, especially while moving around
- Tightness in the chest
- A persistent cough that may discharge clear, white, yellow, or greenish mucus, or sputum
- Recurring infections of the respiratory system
- Low energy
- Intentional loss of weight (latter phases)
- Swelling in the feet, legs, or ankles
What Causes Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease?
The majority of COPD patients are at least 40 years old and have habit of smoking at some point in the past. Your chance of developing COPD increases with the amount of time you spend smoking tobacco products.
Apart from cigarettes, COPD can also be caused by cigars, pipes, and secondhand smoke. Smoking and asthma together increase your risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. This deficiency damages the lungs and may also have an impact on the liver. It’s possible that further related genetic variables are involved.
Treatment for COPD
In general, treatment can reduce the advancement of the disease, avoid complications, and improve symptoms. Physical and respiratory therapists, as well as a pulmonologist, may be part of your healthcare team.
You can improve your breathing by getting more oxygen using a mask or nasal cannula if your blood oxygen level is too low. Moreover, moving about can be made simpler with a portable device.
Surgery is only recommended in cases of severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or after all other options have been exhausted. This is more common in those with severe emphysema. Bullectomy is one term for one kind of surgery. Surgeons remove the lungs’ huge, abnormal air pockets (bullae) during this treatment.
Another procedure that eliminates damaged upper lung tissue is lung volume reduction surgery. Although lung volume reduction surgery is a substantial and fairly hazardous treatment, few individuals actually undertake it to improve their breathing.
Bronchodilators are medications that assist in relaxing the muscles in your airways. They are usually administered via a nebulizer or inhaler. The duration of action of short-acting bronchodilators is 4–6 hours.
It is advisable to only take them when necessary. There are long-acting versions you can take daily to treat persistent problems. They last for around twelve hours.
It’s typical to mix inhaled glucocorticosteroids with long-acting bronchodilators. A glucocorticosteroid can decrease mucus production and airway irritation.
To keep the airways wider, the long-acting bronchodilator can relax the airway muscle. There are pills available for corticosteroids as well.
This kind of drug helps relax the airways and lessen inflammation when taken as pills. It is typically recommended for chronic bronchitis and severe COPD.
This drug relieves breathlessness and tightness in the chest. It could also aid in avoiding flare-ups. You may buy it as a pill.
There may be adverse effects from the older drug theophylline, which relaxes the muscles in the airways. In most cases, it is not the first course of treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Antibiotics and antivirals
Certain respiratory illnesses may require the prescription of antibiotics or antivirals.
Consult your doctor about receiving an annual flu shot, pneumococcal vaccination, and tetanus booster. This protects against pertussis (whooping cough) in order to reduce your chance of developing other respiratory diseases.
A few lifestyle adjustments could also help you feel better or reduce your symptoms:
- Give up smoking if you do. Your physician might suggest suitable products or aftercare services.
- Steer clear of chemical smells and secondhand smoke whenever possible.
- Obtain the nourishment your body requires. Together with a dietitian or doctor, develop a healthy food schedule.
- Find out from your doctor how much exercise is appropriate for you.
The Bottom Line
Breathing difficulties are a result of COPD, an incurable lung illness. In addition to emphysema, a person with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease may also have chronic bronchitis. Although there is no cure, medication can help control the symptoms and improve the quality of life. When a patient is diagnosed with COPD, they should take precautions to safeguard their lungs. It is imperative that smokers give up their habit.