Contributed by: Healthians Team
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a long-term lung disease that causes a limitation of airflow in and out of the lungs, thereby making it hard to breathe. The disease affects millions of people in the country.
In fact, India contributes a significant percentage of COPD-related deaths which is estimated to be amongst the highest in the world. However, the good news is that this lung disease has a clear path of prevention, and there are ways to slow its progression.
In this blog, you’ll find information to help you understand COPD, who is at risk and what symptoms to watch for.
FAQ #1: Is COPD a common disease?
Worldwide, COPD is a common, preventable, and treatable inflammatory lung disease that causes irreversible airflow obstruction with periodic acute episodes of worsening, exacerbations. It mainly affects middle-aged or older adults.
The most commonly associated factor with lung inflammation in COPD is the damaging exposure to cigarette smoke.
FAQ #2: What is the main cause of COPD
In COPD, less air flows between the airways because of one or more of the following:
- Decrease in elasticity of the bronchial tubes and air sacs
- Weakening or rupture of the inner walls of the air sacs
- Inflammation in the fragile airway walls
- Clogging of the airways with mucus
FAQ #3: What are the main irritants that can cause COPD?
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is caused due to exposure to:
- Cigar and cigarette smoke
- Second-hand smoke
- Pipe smoke
- Air pollution
- Dust, fumes or smoke
FAQ #4: What are some of the clinical symptoms of COPD?
- Breathing difficulty
- Mucus (sputum) production
FAQ #5: How soon do COPD symptoms occur?
The symptoms of COPD often do not manifest until the time there is significant lung damage, and they usually worsen over time, particularly if exposure to smoking continues.
FAQ #6: What is the main risk factor of COPD?
The most significant risk factor for COPD is long-term exposure to cigarette smoking. The more years you smoke, the greater your risk for COPD.
FAQ #7: Is COPD serious?
People with COPD are at increased risk of developing various health conditions, including:
- Heart disease
- Lung cancer
FAQ #8: What are the two common conditions that contribute to COPD?
The two most frequent illnesses that cause COPD are emphysema and chronic bronchitis. These two problems are frequently present at the same time and can vary in severity among COPD patients.
FAQ #9: Can COPD be cured?
Currently, there is no cure present for COPD. However, in addition to avoiding triggers, with proper management, most people with COPD can improve their quality of life, achieve good control over their symptoms and slow the progress of the disease.
FAQ #10: Is COPD treatable?
COPD is a progressive disease, which means that that it gets worse over time. Nevertheless, COPD is treatable.
FAQ #11: What are the signs and symptoms of COPD?
Signs and symptoms of COPD may include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
- Chronic cough
- Respiratory infections
- Low energy level
- Unintended weight loss
- Swelling in ankles, feet or legs
FAQ #12: Does COPD persist for days?
People with COPD are more likely to have exacerbations or flare-ups, which are intermittent periods when their symptoms become worse than usual.
FAQ #13: Is COPD life-threatening?
During episodes of flare-ups, people with COPD may require additional treatment at home or hospitalization for emergency care if their symptoms worsen.
It is essential to treat these episodes because they can cause a person’s COPD to progress faster. Severe flare-ups can lead to complications and even become life-threatening.
FAQ #14: What complications may be caused due to COPD?
Given that COPD damages the lungs, it increases the risk of respiratory infections, including:
COPD can also cause many complications, including:
- Heart problems
- Lung cancer
- High blood pressure in lung arteries
FAQ #15: Can you have COPD and asthma together?
Given the fact that COPD and asthma share common symptoms like cough, wheezing, and difficulty breathing, there is a possibility that people can have both conditions.
FAQ #16: Are people with asthma at greater risk for developing COPD?
People with asthma may be at a greater risk for developing COPD. The combination of asthma and smoking increases the risk of COPD even more.
FAQ #17: How does COPD impact daily life?
People suffering from COPD find it difficult to carry out their normal daily activities, often due to breathlessness and tiredness. There may be limitations of productivity at the workplace, and high costs of medical treatment.
FAQ #18: When is COPD considered a medical emergency?
Seek immediate medical care if:
- You can’t catch your breath
- You experience blueness of your lips/ fingernail beds
- You experience a rapid heartbeat
- You feel foggy
- You have trouble concentrating
There is currently no cure for COPD. The best way to deal with COPD is to focus on maintaining overall health and stopping smoking.
Small changes like maintaining a healthful weight, eating a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of lean protein, vitamins, and minerals and getting daily physical exercise can increase energy levels, and reduce the risk of infection.