COPD stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. COPD is a long-term lung disease usually caused by smoking. However, there are some other diseases that can cause COPD, even if the patient never smoked.
COPD includes a few lung diseases: the most common are chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Many people with COPD have both of these diseases.
- Shortness of breath
- Increased mucus and coughing
Some people with COPD say it feels like they’re breathing through a straw.
What does COPD do to my lungs?
COPD slowly damages your airways, the breathing tubes that go in and out of your lungs. People with COPD have swollen and partly blocked airways. They can also have damage in the air sacs at the tips of their airways.
COPD makes it hard to breathe because:
- The airways and air sacs in your lungs lose their shape and stretchiness
- The walls between many of the air sacs are destroyed
- The walls of the airways become thick and swollen
- Cells in the airways make more mucus than usual, which blocks the airways
Many people with COPD have emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
Smoking cigarettes is the main cause of COPD in 80 – 90 % of cases. Other things that can cause COPD are:
- A rare genetic disorder known as ALPHA 1 ANTI TRYPSINE DEFICENCY
- Second hand smoke
- Air pollution (dust or chemicals)
- Having repeated lung infections as a child
Anyone who smokes, or who smoked in the past, can get COPD. People with Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, exposure to second-hand smoke or pollution, or many childhood chest infections, can also get it.
People usually notice COPD symptoms when they’re in their 40s, 50s or 60s. Often people think their COPD symptoms – feeling short of breath, wheezing or coughing – are a normal part of getting older.
Warning Signs Of Acute Flare-up
- Worsening or shortness of breath and wheezing despite adequate medications
- Increased phlegm production
- Change in color of phlegm and fever might point towards development of pneumonia
What should you do in case of Flare-up of COPD
For mild cough or mild wheezing related to COPD, stay in air conditioning when it’s very humid outside. Also avoid very cold air. Extreme temperature and high humidity cause a lot of flare-ups. Avoid dust, smoke and other triggers. Call your doctor; he/she may prescribe you a short course of steroids to decrease the inflammation in your lungs, and maybe a short course of antibiotics, depending upon your specific medical issues
WHEN TO SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE
- When you experience shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing, which does not respond to the usual medications that your doctor has prescribed and you feel that your symptoms are actually getting worse.
- Unable to speak in full sentences
- Cynosis (blue discoloration) of finger tips, lips etc
- Confusion or lethargy