Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive lung condition — ranging from mild to severe — that is characterized by difficulty breathing and restricted airflow into and out of the lungs. COPD is an umbrella term encompassing chronic bronchitis and/or emphysema.
Without the proper intake of oxygen, the rest of your body suffers. It becomes difficult to physically exert yourself and, eventually, to perform simple tasks like walking. Additionally, COPD causes high blood pressure and leads to heart disease. Because COPD is a progressive disease, these problems grow worse over time.
COPD has no cure, but medical treatment may help slow its progression and assist with the ability to breathe. It’s important to know the symptoms of COPD, especially if you smoke, since treatment it in its early stages is more manageable.
Since COPD is a progressive disease, the symptoms may take a while to develop. In its earliest stages, patients may notice frequent coughing with mucus for months or years.
Please, seek medical assistance for COPD if you experience any of these symptoms:
Some of these symptoms, such as the uncontrollable weight loss or the bluish hue of the lips, do not develop until the disease is in its later stages of progression. If you haven’t already seen a medical professional about your symptoms up to this point, please get assistance immediately.
The primary cause of COPD is cigarette smoke.
If you smoke, if you have ever smoked or if you have been exposed to second-hand smoke, you have an increased risk of developing COPD. However, some people who smoke never display symptoms of COPD. Additional elements, such as genetics, diet or lifestyle habits, may factor in more toward the development of COPD alongside smoking. It is possible, though rare, for COPD to develop in patients due to a genetic deficiency of a protein called alpha-1-antitrypsin.
Furthermore, prolonged exposure to breathing dust, chemicals, smoke and asbestos is linked to the development of COPD. If you work in environments such as these or if you smoke, and you’re displaying symptoms of COPD, you should seek immediate medical assistance.
Some of the symptoms of COPD overlap with symptoms of other diseases. Your physician will perform some tests, examine your symptoms, review your personal and family medical history and ask questions about your lifestyle and smoking habits.
Some of the tests your physician may order include:
If it’s apparent that your symptoms may be the result of another condition, your physician may order more tests for an accurate diagnosis. Diagnosing and treating COPD in its earlier stages may allow for a wider range of treatment options, so it’s important for your physician to perform these tests and not misdiagnose you COPD as something else.
As mentioned before, COPD is not curable. The objective of treatment is to slow the progression of the disease and assist with managing its symptoms.
The first and most important component of COPD treatment is to quit smoking if you currently smoke. If you are still smoking when your COPD is diagnosed, then quitting alone may hinder the disease’s progression, especially if the disease is diagnosed in its early stages.
Depending on the severity of your COPD, your overall health and other factors, your COPD treatment may include some of the following:
In extreme cases, surgery may be required to remove damaged tissue. Lung transplants may also be an option for those who qualify. For questions about who qualifies for a lung transplant, you should speak with your primary care provider.
Smoking cigarettes is the number one cause of COPD, so if you never smoked or if you quit smoking, your chances of developing COPD are reduced.
Furthermore, if you work in dusty or fumy environments, you need to wear proper safety equipment and follow safety instructions.
In cases of protein deficiency, there is not much you can do to prevent COPD. However, these cases are much rarer than COPD caused by smoking or lung irritants.
Are you experiencing symptoms of COPD or would you like to speak with a medical professional about your risk of developing COPD? Contact us at the Lung Health Institute today to schedule your free consultation and discover our treatment options.
Fill out this form to learn more about your cellular therapy options
Find out if you’re a candidate.
Every day the Lung Health Institute is changing people’s lives. Our duty and obligation is to help our patients, and we know we are doing something special for them. We measure our success by our patients’ success and their satisfaction with our services and the care they receive from our dedicated staff.