You may be at risk of developing COPD if your answer is yes to any of the questions below:
- Are you a smoker?
- Are you exposed to air pollution or second hand smoking or passive smoking?
- Do you have chronic cough (i.e. > 3 weeks – with or without sputum)
- Do you have wheezing and shortness of breath which is worsening over a period of time?
- Are you not able to keep up pace with people of your own age?
What is COPD?
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a term used to describe progressive lung related diseases like chronic bronchitis, refractory asthma, emphysema and some forms of bronchiectasis that leads to breathing problem. These lung diseases get worse over a period of time. It is due to the damage to the lungs over many years, especially from smoking.
As of now, there is no cure for COPD to reverse the damage to the airways and lungs. However, with treatment and lifestyle changes you can slow the progress of disease and reduce the symptoms to feel better.
Do you know that smoking 100 cigarettes in your lifetime put you at risk of developing COPD?
In almost all cases, smoking is the major cause of COPD. Gradually, breathing tobacco smoke disturbs the airways and destroys the stretchy fibers in the lungs leading to breathing problem. Apart from smoking, breathing chemical fumes, dust or a polluted air for years can also increase the risk of COPD. Also, serious lung infections when you were a child can increase your risk of COPD.
As it is a progressive disease, COPD is mostly common as you age, older than 60.
The major symptoms of COPD are:
- Long lasting chronic cough
- Cough with mucus
- Shortness of breath which gets even worse while exercising
- Feeling of tightness in your chest
As COPD gets worse, even simple daily activities like cooking or getting dressed can lead to breathing problem. Eating and exercising makes it worse.
Many people with COPD have attacks called exacerbations, which is when your common symptoms gets worse. These attacks can be dangerous, ranging from mild to life-threatening, and you may have to rush to the hospital.
As there is no cure for COPD to reverse the damage, the goals of treatment for COPD are to:
- Slow down the progress of the disease
- Limit your symptoms
- Prevent COPD exacerbation
- Increase your overall health
- Quit smoking – The best way to prevent COPD is to quit smoking or not to start smoking in the first place. By quitting, you can slow down the damage to your lungs
- Avoid bad air – Other irritants to airway like air pollution and chemical fumes can make COPD worse. So, avoid these bad air causing COPD
- Get vaccines – In case, you have COPD you have to take following vaccination to avoid further complication
- Flu vaccines – You need to get a flu vaccine every year if you have COPD. When people with OCPD get the flu, it can lead to serious health issues like pneumonia, which can be prevented by flu vaccine
- Pneumococcal vaccine – COPD and pneumonia can be a severe problem. Therefore, getting a shot of pneumococcal can prevent pneumonia
- Pertussis vaccine – Pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, increases the risk of COPD exacerbation. Therefore, pertussis vaccine can prevent it