The 5 Things Everyone Should Know About COPD

There are many people who suffer from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. It is more commonly called COPD. This is a very troublesome respiratory disorder that is unfortunately irreversible and affects millions of people across the United States. COPD is characterized by inflammation of the lungs. This then causes an increase in mucus production, difficulty breathing and other general respiratory issues. The most likely cause of COPD is exposure to different lung irritants, particularly those that are found in forms of inhaled tobacco products. There is a genetic disorder (called alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency) that can also lead to COPD complications in non-smokers, but this is an extremely rare case. Asthma can also develop into COPD if it is severe enough.

Essentially, individuals suffering from COPD have an excess of carbon dioxide in their lungs that, no matter how deeply they may breathe out, they cannot completely remove. That CO2 will remain with them until they die, as there are no cures for COPD or other smoking-related respiratory issues. Treatment options exist and clinical trials are in the process of developing new medications, but these are only able to treat the symptoms . Maintenance of pain and respiratory symptoms is the only hope that most sufferers of COPD can expect. Read through the following five questions and answers to learn more about this disease and how you can work to prevent it.

The Five Important Questions

1. How does a medical professional diagnose COPD?

A: Spirometry, or a Pulmonary Function Test, is the most common breathing test used to determine different respiratory disorders by medical professionals. When you go into your primary care provider or a breathing specialist, they will likely have you perform a spirometry test to better understand your lung health. During the test, a medical assistant will have you take a deep breath, until your lungs are full, and then "blast" the air out as quickly as you can, holding the exhale for about six seconds, into a mouthpiece that is attached to a laptop or other technical recording device. Depending on how much air you can get out of your lungs in that "blast" as well as how much you can get out over the total time of the test will give your physician a better idea of what your particular respiratory issues might be and how to treat them.

2. What is a COPD exacerbation?

A: An "exacerbation" refers to a sort of "attack" where you will find it is more difficult to breathe than normal. You may find yourself coughing more, or unable to take more than the slightest of breaths in. If you feel that you may be experiencing a COPD exacerbation, call for help or have someone take you to the emergency room to receive treatment immediately. If an exacerbation lasts too long, it can be life-threatening.

3. What other medical conditions are associated with COPD?

A: The cardiopulmonary system works very close together, and as such, you may notice increased heart problems as a result of your COPD. In addition, because individuals with COPD are less active, many suffer from obesity and the many diseases that stem from that, including diabetes, high blood pressure, gout, arthritis, sleep apnea, and stroke. Again, the only real way to prevent COPD and, in turn, these other medical conditions is to not start smoking, or quit smoking if you already have and develop a healthier, more active lifestyle.

4. What if my COPD medications are no longer effective?

A: As the disease progresses, there is a good chance that your body will either adapt to your current medications or otherwise find them no longer helpful in treating your symptoms. If you are finding that your medications are no longer effective, you should visit your physician and discuss other options. There are many different types of medications available. If one doesn’t work, then another type just might. Nearly all of these medications are the same used for asthmatic patients, so finding the right medication for your condition may take some trial and error.

5. Will I require an oxygen tank if I am diagnosed with COPD?

A: There is a chance that you will never need to be put on oxygen, however, this depends on your specific case. Some individuals with COPD use oxygen for only a few hours a day, some only overnight, others require a 24/7 oxygen link, and still others are able to manage their condition without oxygen. If you are diagnosed with COPD, discuss your options with your physician and make a decision based on your specific breathing issues and needs.

Disclaimer: The articles on this website are not meant to encourage the self-management of any health or wellness issue. Nor are they meant to encourage any one type of medical treatment. Treatment or advice used by a reader may have varying results, as each individual is different. Any article reader with a health-related question, is encouraged to seek a proper consultation with a doctor or certified health provider. The articles on this website should not be used to disregard any medical or health-related advice, nor should they be the root cause for delay in seeing a doctor or a certified health provider.

The articles on this website should not be used to start the use of dietary supplements or vitamins, natural or herbal products, homeopathic medicine or other mentioned products prior to a proper consultation with a doctor or certified health provider.

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