COPD: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options
If you have trouble taking a deep breath when performing daily tasks, you may have (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). More than 16 million Americans have been diagnosed with the disease. The symptoms are mild at the onset of the condition and tend to worsen if untreated. Here is what you need to know about COPD causes, prevention, and treatment at Integrated Family Medical Center.
Causes and symptoms of COPD
COPD occurs when there is an inflammation or obstruction in the airways within your lungs. Irritants from cigarette smoke are responsible for up to 90% of COPD cases. Therefore, smokers have an elevated risk, but non-smokers can also develop COPD.
Dust, tobacco smoke, and fumes can also affect your lungs. Chemicals and secondhand smoke can narrow air passages and diminish the immune defense system. The body loses its ability to fight lung infections, which often triggers COPD.
A genetic disorder causing Alpha-1-Antitrypsin (AAt) deficiency is usually responsible for about 1% of COPD cases. AAt is a chemical agent from the liver that helps to prevent lung infection.
COPD and health complications
COPD, like most respiratory conditions, worsens with time if untreated. Patients with COPD are much more susceptible to respiratory problems such as flu, asthma attacks, or pneumonia.
The lung’s diminished defenses encourage infections that can cause long-term tissue damage. As a result, COPD patients are more likely to develop lung cancer.
The airways can thicken, diminishing the body’s ability to absorb oxygen. Arteries may progressively narrow until they constrict blood flow. At advanced stages, it may graduate to high blood pressure.
Disease management and prevention
At the onset of COPD, disease management can be accomplished through simple lifestyle or environmental adjustments. It is wise to quit smoking regardless of the severity of your condition. Tobacco can complicate the management and treatment of disease.
You can also prevent or manage COPD by removing factors that could be worsening symptoms. Avoid second-hand smoke or irritants that can cause lung inflammation. Use protective gear when working in areas with lots of dust or chemical fumes.
While you may want to make lifestyle adjustments on your own, it is wise to consult a doctor if you have symptoms. Your provider can run diagnostic tests to establish the cause behind your condition. By determining the factors causing COPD, the treatment can result in better outcomes.
COPD treatment options
Your provider may recommend other treatment options after establishing COPD’s cause and severity. Treatment may include pulmonary rehabilitation, which teaches patients to breathe better and adopt a healthy diet. Patients learn how to manage COPD symptoms to improve their quality of life.
Your healthcare provider may also prescribe COPD medication to improve your breathing. Bronchodilators are medications that open up the airways by relaxing lung muscles. You can use bronchodilators before performing your daily activities.
Another option is oxygen supplementation which replenishes oxygen in the body. Supplementation can address symptoms like fatigue and often extends the lifespan of COPD patients.
Contact your trusted medical center to schedule a consultation with Kalpana Desai, MD, today.