COPD: Types, symptoms and preventive healthcare

 What is COPD?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a term used to describe continuous lung diseases that makes it difficult for a person to breath. COPD occurs when the lungs have been damaged for a long period of time.


COPD is an untreatable health condition, but you can manage it if diagnosed and treated at the right time.


This article will discuss three main types of COPD this are; chronic bronchitis, emphysema and asthma


Types of COPD

Emphysema: 

Occurs when the alveoli (air sacs) in the lungs are demolished. The walls of the demolished alveoli become stretched out and the lungs get larger making it difficult to breath in or out. Decrepit air get cornered inside the air sacs creating no room for fresh air to go. It is very difficult to breathe oxygen in and breathe out carbon dioxide in emphysema.


Chronic bronchitis: 

Characterized by exacerbation of the bronchial (breathing tubes) inside your lungs .Cilia line sweep mucus up, keeping your respiratory track clean. When cilia are demolished, they cannot sweep mucus up thus making it difficult for you to cough up mucus. This can make respiratory track swollen and blocked. These permutation of snorkel breather limit the flow of air in and out, making it difficult to breathe.


Refractory asthma: 

This is a non-reversible  type of asthma that does not reciprocate to normal asthma treatments. In an asthma attack, respiratory track stiffen up and swell. Treatment can return the respiratory track back  to normal state. In the case of  non –reversible asthma, treatments cannot turn back the stiff and swollen respiratory track to its normal state.


Causes of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Smoking is the leading cause of COPD.


The more and individual smokes the more chances of developing COPD, although, of course, some individuals smoke for long period and never get COPD.


In very few cases, nonsmokers who   have insufficient   alpha-1 antitrypsin can grow emphysema.


Other risk factors for COPD include:

  • Exposure to large amount of secondhand smoke
  •  Exposure to fumes and gases.
  • Regular use of cooking fire without proper ventilation channel.

  Stages and symptoms of COPD

 COPD symptoms may be lenient at the first but as it continues, symptoms can become more persistent  thus becoming very hard to breathe.


Stage I (early stage)

During this stage the signs  of COPD  can be  quiet lenient, you may think  you have cold or you  are not  physically fit like you used to be .Individuals with high rise  risk of  COPD  should be attentive to every early sign.In fact, some people with early stage of COPD may not realize they have COPD until at severe stage (late stage) but here are the symptoms of early stage COPD.


Here are the Symptoms of early stage of COPD: 

  • Lenient cough with or without mucus.
  • Dyspnea (shortness of breath) that worsen with mild activities.

Moderate or stage II COPD

At this moderate stage, COPD worsens thus limiting your airflow.


Stage II (moderate) the symptoms are no longer something to ignore, they affect your daily chores. At this stage that where most of the individuals finds out they have COPD, since it is difficult to identify in the first stage.


Symptoms of stage II COPD

All the hidden symptoms you had in stage one becomes constant and difficult to ignore in stage II. The situation drains your strength making it difficult for you to do your daily duties as normal because lungs becomes more demolished. Stage II COPD, can affect your mental health causing confusion and mumbled speech.

Symptoms of stage II COPD

  • Persistent coughing that becomes worse in the morning hours.
  • Dyspnea that makes difficult in performing home chores.
  • fatigue
  • wheezing

Stage III

At  Stage  III the chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases  has larger  effects  on the  way your body  perform its daily  chores ,but better treatment can help you manage COPD at this stage .

Symptoms of stage III COPD

  •  wheezing
  • Continuous cough with or without mucus
  • Fatigue
  • swelling in your feet and ankle
  • Increased and fast heart beat than normal.

 Stage IV or late stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) 

Long period of living with the disease can led to serious lung damage. Since you can’t alter the situation there, you can do a lot of things to manage they COPD symptoms

At this stage an individual may experience the following symptoms

  • persistent wheezing
  • swelling in your feet and ankle
  • weight loss

Treatment for COPD

Most individuals have lenient forms of the disease which when little therapy is applied can help you manage the symptoms, reduce complication and decrease exacerbation risks.


Smoking cessation

The most important   procedure in any COPD treatment plan is to stop smoking. In most cases smoking is the main cause of COPD and to reduce   risks of COPD it is advisable for the individual to quit smoking. It is good idea to consult your doctor about nicotine replacement products and medication that might enable you quit smoking.it is also health to avoid second hand smoke exposure.

Medication  

Doctors use several types of medication to treat the symptoms and complication of COPD. Some medications are taken on regular basis or as prescribed by the doctor.


Bronchodilators. These are inhaler medications that enables the muscle to relax around your respiratory tracks .This medications assist to relieve coughing and dyspnea. Individual may need short or long acting bronchodilator depending on the seriousness of the disease.


Inhaled steroid this medication can decrease inflammation of respiratory tracts and prevent exacerbations. This medications are useful to individual with regular exasperation of COPD.An Examples of inhaled corticosteroid is fluticasone and budesonide. However, inhaled steroids has side effect such as oral infection and bruising. 


Phosphodiesterase -4 inhibitors is an advanced medication for individuals with acute COPD and symptoms of chronic bronchitis. This medication reduces inflammation of respiratory track .Usual side effects for this drug are weight loss and diarrhea.


Antibiotics respiratory infection such as pneumonia and influenza can worsen COPD symptoms .Antibiotics help treat constant exasperation but they are usually recommended for prevention of COPD.


Theophylline .Is very cheap treatment that can enhance breathing and controlled exacerbations. Theophylline has side effects such as headache, increased in heart beat   and nausea, this side effect are   dose related and low does are recommended.


Lung therapies specialist often uses additional therapies for individuals with stage II and stage III COPD.


Oxygen therapy when you have insufficient oxygen in your body, you may require oxygen supplement. Oxygen therapy is the only therapy that is proven to improve life quality and extend you survive.


Pulmonary rehabilitation program. This is a combination of education, nutrition advice, counseling, support groups and exercising. Pulmonary rehabilitation program improves your ability to take part in your daily chores and help you improve your life quality .It is good to consult your doctor for a referral program that will enable you manage your COPD.


Managing exacerbations   acute exacerbation is where by symptoms worsen even with ongoing treatment. This may cause lung failure if you don’t get appropriate treatment at the right time.

Polluted air and respiratory exacerbations, it is important to seek appropriate medical aid if you notice weird sign such as increasing coughing and difficulty in breathing. When exacerbations occurs, you may require extra medication such as antibiotics and steroid. Once your symptoms are stabilized your doctor may advise you on steps you may take to prevent exacerbations in future.


Surgery

Surgery is an alternative for some individuals with acute emphysema who cannot be helped by medication only. Surgical options include;

Lung volume reduction surgery in this process your surgeon get rid of small wedges of for destroyed lung tissues from the upper lungs. This generates extra space in the chest the remaining heath lungs to expand thus making diaphragm to perform it work efficiently.in some individual’s surgery improves life quality and prolong living.


Lung transplant can improve your ability to breathe .However, it’s a major process that has notable risks such as rejection. It is important to take suppressing –immune   medications.


Bullectomy. Huge bullae form in the lungs when the walls of alveoli are demolished. These air spaces becomes very huge causing breathing complications. In bullectomy, doctors get rid of bullae from the lungs to assist in improving airflow.


Life style and home remedies of COPD

Here are the measures you can take to feel better and reduce damage to your lungs;

  • Control your breathing .Consult your doctor or therapist about ways and techniques for breathing   that you can use when you run short of breath.
  • Clear your respiratory track. Individuals with COPD mucus tend to collect and block your airways .Controlled coughing and drinking plenty of water may be help you reduce the danger.
  • Frequent exercise .It is challenging to train when you have problems in breathing but doing exercise every will help you improve and strengthen respiratory muscles .It is a good idea to consult from your specialist which activities   are best for you.
  • Eat healthy foods. A healthy diet can strengthen and maintain you. If you are overweight then losing weight remarkably help your breathing especially during hard labor .Underweight individuals are supplied with nutritional supplement that may help them gain weight.
  • Avoid smoke and air pollution .It is good to avoid places with smoke, fumes and gases. In addition, use of cooking fire with inappropriate smoke channel contribute to lung damage.
  • See you specialist frequently .It is important to stick to your specialist schedule.it is very important to monitor your lungs by getting annual flu vaccine to protect the lungs from infection that can deteriorate your COPD.

Essential Nutrients for COPD Management

Vitamin D regulates the activities of various immune cells, remodeling and strengthening respiratory muscles (Banerjee 2012). Research shows that high plasma levels of vitamin D are related with increased bone mineral density and exercise capacity in people with COPD (Romme 2012).


Antioxidants: vitamins A, C E; vitamin a repairs destroyed lung disease and enables lung development in the embryonic stage. Low level of vitamin E and C were associated with wheezing and dyspnea .Research shows individuals with COPD have insufficient level of vitamin E and C.


Sulforaphane; Research shows that sulforaphane a powerful compound that is found in broccoli can reduce inflammation. Study shows that sulforaphane can restore corticosteroid sensitivity and increase the activity of HDAC2 (Malhotra 2011).


Coenzyme Q10 is a powerful antioxidant that improves exercise activities in individuals with COPD.


Proteins and Amino Acids are  essential  acids which are  central to anabolic process that enables muscles to sustain mass  while ageing. In addition proteins and amino acids improves physical body function.


Prevention of  COPD

These are measures to take to protect yourself from COPD

  • Quitting smoking is the most important measure a smoker can take in order to live a healthier and longer. American lung association has pretty of programs to help you stop smoking.
  • If you are nonsmoker it is healthier not to start smoking. Smoking causes COPD, heart disease and lung cancer.
  • Be aware of other harms and take care to protect yourself against polluted fumes, chemicals and dust.
  • Assist in fight for clean environment and clean air within your community.

References.

Anderson B, Conner K, Dunn C, et al. Institute for Clinical

Systems Improvement. Diagnosis and management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). 10th edition. www.icsi.org/_asset/yw83gh/COPD.pdf. Updated January 2016. Accessed July 18, 2017.

Celli BR, Zuwallack RL. Pulmonary rehabilitation. In: Broaddus VC, Mason RJ, Ernst JD, et al, eds. Murray and Nadel’s Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 105.