Shortness of breath and coughing prompted you to go to a doctor to check if you have the coronavirus, fortunately, you didn’t contract the dreaded virus – however, you found out that you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). While you may feel that it’s a little less severe than the Covid-19, bear in mind that this is still the third leading cause of death in America.
What’s worse is that it is not curable and anyone can suffer from COPD. In fact, as of last year, around 6.2 percent of people over 18 have this condition.
What Causes COPD?
While this disease is not curable, it is preventable, which is why it is crucial to know what causes COPD. According to Loma Linda University Health Comprehensive Program for Obstructive Airways Diseases director Laren Tan, the typical reason people have this disease is tobacco smoke. For smokers, there is a 15.2-percent average of prevalence.
Other causes include dust or chemicals that are usually occupational hazards, genetic abnormalities, pollution, and secondhand smoke. While it may not affect all older people, age is a risk factor as it was found that those who developed COPD were mostly 40 and up.
Why is that? As people age, the lung function declines. More so if they smoke, the function decrease will happen quicker than it was supposed to be.
What Are The Symptoms?
Dr. Tan explained that COPD is pretty much the same as ‘airway constipation,’ in which your airways are somehow blocked or clogged with mucus or are inflamed. Healthy, functional lungs have elastic air sacs called alveoli which inflate and deflate as you inhale and exhale.
However, if you have COPD, the airways as well as the air sacs are not as elastic, making it hard to breathe and exhale all the air out of your lungs. Some of its symptoms include wheezing when exhaling, dry or phlegmy coughing, shortness of breath, fatigue, and mucus and phlegm in airways and lungs.
The thing is, COPD gets worse over time so it definitely is a cause of concern. However, you should immediately seek help if you suffer from chest pains, coughing up blood, blue lips and fingers, and severe shortness of breath.
How Will I Treat COPD?
COPD is incurable but there are treatments that will help a patient with the symptoms. First and foremost, if you are a smoker, you should definitely avoid worsening your condition by ceasing this vice. Speak with your doctor on how you can effectively and safely quit smoking.
Secondhand smoke as well as irritants should be avoided. Inhalers are your friends but you should seek professional help to know which one is for you. There are also medications that will be given or you will also be advised to try pulmonary rehabilitation.