Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a disease that damages your lungs. It may start with mild symptoms and then get worse. If you experience shortness of breath, increased breathlessness, or frequent coughing, you need to consult your doctor for further investigation.
Dr. Kalpana Desai is a skilled healthcare specialist who provides accurate diagnoses and treatment plans for COPD.
To know more about COPD, its symptoms, and treatment, read on!
What is COPD?
COPD is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes airflow from the lungs. It is usually a group of diseases that includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
Smoking is a common cause of COPD; however, you can also develop lung disease from exposure to other lung irritants like pollution, fumes, or gas.
There are certain risk factors that could predispose you to COPD:
- Above 50 years of age
- Exposure to pollutants
- History of respiratory infections in childhood
- Have alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AAT)
Though you cannot reverse lung damage, medication and lifestyle changes can help you manage the symptoms.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of COPD are as follows:
- Severe cough and wheezing
- Tiredness after strenuous activities
- Tightness in the chest
How is COPD diagnosed?
Your doctor will initially record your symptoms and medical history that includes family history and habits like smoking.
Furthermore, you will be advised of the following tests:
- Chest X-ray: To detect emphysema or heart failure
- CT (computed tomography) scan: To screen for lung cancer
- Lung/pulmonary function tests (PFT): To measure your lung capacity
- Arterial blood gas analysis: To measure oxygenation of the blood and removal of carbon dioxide
How to treat COPD?
There is no treatment for COPD but there are several methods to manage your symptoms and prevent further damage. These help to reduce your chances of flare-ups and ensure that you lead an active life. These include:
- Quit smoking
- Long-term medications to manage symptoms
- Medications to reduce symptom flare-ups
- Lung therapy, like supplemental oxygen
- Surgeries such as lung volume reduction, transplant, or bullectomy
Your doctor may also adopt a holistic approach to manage symptoms, such as:
- A healthy diet
- Regular exercise
- Breathing techniques
- Controlled coughing to clear airways
COPD causes lung damage that is irreversible. Yet, you can learn to manage your symptoms under the guidance of your doctor. By early detection and treatment, you will have the best chance of continuing to do things you love.