Millions of people around the world suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (also known as COPD). There are several causes of this condition, as well as a number of treatment options for those who suffer from it.
WHAT IS COPD?
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a chronic inflammatory lung disease. It is actually a combination of lung diseases, such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema. COPD can make it hard for sufferers to breathe, and manifests with symptoms that are very similar to asthma.
The main cause of COPD today is smoking. Smokers are at a much higher risk of developing both COPD and asthma, especially if they smoke many times throughout the day. In turn, those who suffer from COPD are at increased risk for other diseases, such as heart disease and lung cancer.
SYMPTOMS AND TREATMENT
Symptoms of COPD typically only appear after significant lung damage has occurred. Since COPD is a progressive disease, symptoms worsen over time, especially if exposure to harmful contaminants and irritants, such as cigarette smoke, continues.
Common symptoms of COPD include:
- Tightness in the chest
- Shortness of breath, especially during or after exercise
- Chronic coughing along with the production of sputum
- Lack of energy
- Inflammation of the ankles, feet, or legs
- Unintended weight loss
- Frequent infections of the respiratory system
- Episodes known as "exacerbations" during which COPD symptoms become worse for several days at a time
While COPD does get worse over time, it is a treatable condition. Common treatment options include bronchodilators, inhaled corticosteroids, and lifestyle management. With prompt treatment, and lifestyle changes as needed, COPD patients can achieve a measure of control over their symptoms.
Of course, in order for this to occur COPD must be properly diagnosed early on. The trained medical professionals at Allergy and Asthma Care of Waco can determine whether you are suffering from COPD, and then guide you to the treatment option most effective for your situation.