COPD – A wake-up call for Smokers

This topic briefs about the third chronic disease prevalent in the United States of America.  It is one of the illness which have the treatment and if avoided can lead to death as well. This disease is a chronic obtrusive pulmonary disorder. Moreover, the success rates depend upon the severity of the disorder ranging from 40% to 70%.

 

What is COPD?

Symptoms

Causes

Diagnosis

Life after COPD

What is Spirometry?

Case Study of UK Scientists

Conclusion

 

What is COPD?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a lung disease having conditions of chronic bronchitis and emphysema. The breathing becomes hard in this disease. It is one of the most occurred diseases. Nevertheless, the treatment and cure of this disease are available.

It is a chronic disease that can have long term effects that can lead to death. The airways of your lungs are inflamed and thickened destroying the tissue where the oxygen is exchanged. In short, the passage of air in the lungs lowers down gradually. The amount of oxygen contain lessens in the body destructing the passage of carbon dioxide in the body to get out.

Symptoms

  • Chronic Cough
  • Breathing problems
  • Respiratory infections
  • Fingernail beds
  • Lips turn blue
  • Stress
  • Mucus formation
  • Wheezing

 

The risks include exposure to polluted air, passive smoking, too much exposure to chemicals like the workers in a chemical factory, people have genetic conditions or a history of respiratory dysfunction. The best way is to quit smoking, avoid passive smoking, wear protective masks if compulsory exposure to specks of dust or chemicals, fumes. Try planting trees, help the environment by keeping it clean.

Causes

Smoking is one of the main reasons for lung-related diseases. Almost 90% of the cases are smokers. The cigarette burning is a harmful process releasing dangerous chemical burning and the defense mechanism of lungs is weakened. The factors common in COPD are infections, narrow air passages, because swelling in air tubes and destroy air sacs.

The environment is one of the key reasons for causing COPD. The infected air which we breathe, passive smoke air, and fumes are a few reasons for COPD.

Also, few hereditary cases have a deficiency of Alpha1 protein that is related to emphysema.

 

Diagnosis

The doctor will check the health history. There will be a series of examinations performed on patients like spirometry and other tests. When the diagnosis is done, the treatment methods suggested by a doctor will depend upon the type of COPD one is suffering from. Few methods include pulmonary rehabilitation. The main aim is to rebuild the strength of the person by physical training, eating a proper diet, and getting counseling. Also, the person suffering from this disease needs oxygen, so supplemental oxygen is provided that helps in activities like food digestion, daily chores. The extra supplemental oxygen called oxygen therapy is like external help. In many cases, surgery is also performed to patients suffering from breathing issues. Few of the cases can undergo clinical trials that determine the ongoing research on the current patients and its effects on them. In this method, the awareness of patient increases about his health condition and the patient then takes more interest in getting better by his will which is more like increasing the positive attitude of a person towards the recovery. This factor plays an important role and speeds up the growth of a person. The traditional methods used for the betterment of the person are Yoga practice, meditation, massages, and acupuncture. They directly do not affect the conditions but acts as a supplement to medical treatment. One more curing method is called palliative care that focuses on medicines for treating the illness. It is based on therapies of better lifestyles, medication, and disease management. It removes emotions like physical and emotional symptoms and increases the communication levels of patients with healthcare professionals. Many people who work on palliative care includes social team, nurses, and doctors whose sole aim is to meet the patients with their expectations. The best part of it is this treatment can be started at any time of the disease.

Life after COPD

Once you are diagnosed with this chronic disease, life is not going to be the same at least mentally. The person feels like not doing anything, feels dizzy. A person faces many physical in this course of duration. The best way is to plan out, how to perform the routine. A checklist to manage your emotions and feelings, to regularize your medicine intake, to measure the reduction of cigarette intake, exercise and diet plan, use of oxygen prescribed and taken daily. Work out on the negative points that may exist and try to minimize them by taking necessary actions. Many people suffer from withdrawal symptoms. Practice medications. The medicines mostly prescribed by the doctor are bronchodilators, anti-inflammatory, combination medicines, antibiotics, and vaccinations.

Make yourself well aware of the available groups around yourself who has the same feelings and emotions, you are undergoing through. Expand your insights into the ocean of knowledge, read articles, help yourself. 

What is Spirometry?

It is a test to determine the functioning of the lungs by calculating the amount of air inhalation and exhalation rate, along with the speed at which the air is exhaled.

It is diagnosed with various diseases like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), and other conditions that are related to breathing.

The periodic diagnosis used for studying the lung condition. It also tells whether further treatment is required or not.

The symptoms of lung function disorder persist in a patient, like asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, bronchitis, breathing problems.

Though it is safe to perform this test, there are few after-effects like dizzy feeling, etc. People suffering from heart problems are asked on priority to undergo this test to get diagnosed as early as possible, under the supervision and guidance of a doctor. The best advice is to listen to your doctors properly on medications and other test-related questions.

The test apparatus is a tube attached to an instrument in which one has to breathe. The instrument is known as a spirometer. The test is a bit irritable as it blocks your breathing for quite some time but is simple. Simply take a seat and a clip around your nose will be put so that there is no passage of air through your nostrils. The passing of the breathing will be in the tube hard and consistent. Make sure no air goes out your mouth and also the breathing regularity should be maintained. The total time duration is 15 minutes. The two measurements for spirometry are forced vital capacity and forced expiratory volume.

Case Study of UK Scientists

A study made by UK scientists on patients, consists of low dose CT lung cancer screening suggests breathing tests play a prime role in detecting possibilities of COPD and dependencies on radiological changes discover this clinically insignificant disease.

A paper ‘Prevalence, Symptom Burden and Under-Diagnosis of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease in a Lung Cancer Screening Cohort’ observed the few factors like linkages between symptoms, the existence of other diseases like emphysema, comorbidities, and spirometry in the patients. The Lung Screen Uptake Trial(LSUT) was carried out on many individuals having higher risks and low-income individuals.

Professor Samuel Janes, University College London’s Lungs for Living Research Centre and Mamta Ruparel, MRCP led the study.

Prof Janes said that more than fifty percent who attended the health check-up during the pre-screening testing was noted having physiological parameters of airflow obstruction all along with the diagnosis of COPD as against the two-thirds who did not test for the screening. The study unveiled many factors causing lung disorders that included lung cancer and COPD. While the study highlights the patients having the condition of emphysema is common amongst the hefty smokers, though previous or present cases, having high dangers of lung cancer, whereas, the physiological changes of airway obstruction is assessed by spirometry and the airway obstruction result is the most significant indication of respiratory symptom and hence a potential COPD case.

Nonetheless, the test only carried out tests for COPD particularly and did not cover the efficacy of low-dose CT screening that detects lung cancer at an early stage. The respiratory symptoms of the patients having a past of cough or breathing problems in a one-year duration.  The patients were labeled into several categories like “under-diagnosed”, “no COPD”, “undiagnosed”, and “known COPD” based on the standard spirometric definition of COPD. The total participants were 986, out of which, three groups as mentioned above formed depending on the results.

All the participants were tested for spirometry without giving prior bronchodilators. The standards were set according to accepted norms for airflow limitation. Different types of analyses were done based on health and demography. The radiologists specializing in lung disease have been called for reading the reports. They made classifications like “none”, “mild”, “moderate”, or “severe” based on a visual study of the reports. The results said 32% -“undiagnosed COPD” had no signs of emphysema on their scans, out of 986, 560 i.e. 57% were included in the analysis having pre-bronchodilator spirometry consistent with COPD. However, 67% did not have a history of COPD categorized into “undiagnosed”. The “known COPD” patients had 73% emphysema percentage as compared with the “undiagnosed” had 68%. The patients who diagnosed as COPD had an inhaler usage problem with regards to the non-diagnosed. The presence of symptoms of other diseases along with the symptoms of COPD was common among the patients. However, if the statistics showed that the respiratory symptoms were more prevalent in airflow obstruction than emphysema. Dr. Ruparel said, “Thirty-two percent of participants with airflow obstruction who did not report a prior diagnosis of COPD had no emphysema on their CT scan, while, conversely, individuals with emphysema did not always have airflow obstruction.” And, the findings emphasized that the over-dependence on CT alone is risky as it may not detect the people who have this condition. This method is over-analyzing the people. So to get a proper diagnosis of COPD, people at risk of lung cancer should get diagnosed with spirometry and low dose CT as well for precise assessment.

Conclusion

Small lifestyle changes, managing tools you are using as indicators to track your wellbeing, routine, protect your lungs, exercise, eat healthy nutritious food, be active, balance your emotions, talk to healthcare professionals help you in your fight.

It is not hard but it is not easy too, to fight this chronic illness. All you need to have is a positive attitude with high-level fighting spirits and will to overcome whatever comes in front of you. This is a disease that can be treated and prevented from getting worse.

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