"The essence of health is inner balance" - Andrew Weil

What is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a condition involving the lung’s airways and air sacs. Persons with COPD have chronic bronchitis and/or emphysema. Emphysema slowly destroys air sacs in your lungs, which obstructs outward air flow. Bronchitis causes inflammation and narrowing of the bronchial tubes, which allows mucus to build up.

Possible Causes: 

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is an ongoing lung disorder that makes it hard to breathe.

Some causes are:

  • Smoking and pollution in the air.
  • Genetically, an Alpha-1 Antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency creates a protein deficiency in your lungs.
  • Asthma is sometimes confused with COPD.

Risk Factors: 

Smoking appears to be the greatest risk factor for COPD. 

Other likely factors are:

  • Long hours working in a polluted environment where you’re bound to inhale dust, chemical fumes, or vapour.
  • Those already suffering from respiratory infections especially during childhood.

Signs & Symptoms: 

Tell-tale signs of COPD appear only when the disease has reached an advance stage. Some chronic obstructive pulmonary disease symptoms are:

  • Coughing all the time.
  • Bringing up phlegm while coughing.
  • Feeling tired and listless.
  • Wheezing and shortness of breath.
  • Blue lips or fingernails in severe cases.

Diagnosis: 

The specialist at Medcare will first check your medical history and ask you whether you have difficulty in breathing, whether you cough all the time, if there is phlegm and tightness in your chest. A chest examination using a stethoscope will be conducted while you breathe in and out. 

Some tests that are recommended before commencing medication:

  • Spirometry, which is a common lung function test. This is especially useful in cases where COPD symptoms are not noticeable yet.
  • Chest X-ray helps the doctor isolate the issue from other diseases such as pneumonia, cancer, and heart failure.
  • Chest CT scan provides detailed images of your chest to assist diagnosis.
  • Arterial blood gas test to check the levels of oxygen and carbon-dioxide in it.
  • Some special test that may be needed such as Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency Testing (AAT) for a protein found in your lungs and blood.

Treatment Options: 

Visit Medcare for the best chronic obstructive pulmonary disease treatment options.

Getting back to normalcy and breathing comfortably is our objective when treating COPD. Treatment may include:

  • Bronchodilators are taken through inhalers. They relax the muscles around your airways, making breathing easier. Short-acting bronchodilators provide relief quickly, while long-acting bronchodilators can relieve constriction for a long time and are also used regularly as a preventive. 
  • Corticosteroids help reduce mucus production and inflammation in your lungs, making breathing easier.
  • Pneumococcal vaccine is recommended each year as it protects you against seasonal influenza and pneumonia.
  • Antibiotics to clear bacterial infections as these can aggravate your COPD.  
  • Finally, eating a nutritious, balanced diet, and being physically active.

At Medcare we have pulmonary rehabilitation which encompasses exercise, disease management, nutrition, and therapy to help you feel better and healthier.

FAQs: الأسئلة الشائعة:
  • How does COPD affect my lungs?

    A: When you have COPD, your lungs don't work, normally. Due to swelling and mucus in the alveoli, which are tiny sacs in the lungs, the lungs are not able to push out the stale air and you do not receive enough fresh oxygen.

  • What are bronchodilators?

    A: Bronchodilators are taken in through inhalers and their function is to relax the muscles around your airways to let more air into your lungs. 

    This provides relief when you have shortness of breath. Short-acting bronchodilators are used only when you experience symptoms of COPD as they work quickly. Long-acting bronchodilators are used every day to prevent symptoms. These bring down swelling in your airways.

  • How can I reduce my chances of getting COPD?

    A: Firstly avoid smoking! Avoid breathing in fumes, dust and smoke. Check if any family member has AAT deficiency. You can breathe better with lifestyle changes and medicines.

  • Is obstructive lung disease the same as COPD?

    A: Yes, obstructive lung disease and COPD are the same things. Obstructive lung diseases or COPD make it difficult to exhale all the air present in your lungs. This causes shortness of breath with exertion. 

    COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is the proper medical term that is used to refer to obstructive lung diseases such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Doctors tend to use these interchangeably. 

  • What causes COPD?

    A: Smoking, genetic disorders and exposure to pollutants are some of the risk factors that can lead to COPD. If left untreated, COPD can prove to be life-threatening.

    Do not leave COPD untreated. Consult a Medcare specialist today for proper diagnosis and treatment.

  • What foods should be avoided with COPD?

    A: Managing Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, also known as COPD, primarily involves making lifestyle changes such as modifying your diet. Some of the foods you should avoid if you have COPD include-fried foods, aerated beverages and foods high in sodium as they directly put pressure on your breathing or cause discomfort in your body.

    Other foods to abstain from if you are suffering from COPD include dairy products, cruciferous vegetables, cured and cold meats. Keeping a record of foods that make you feel bloated or increase your discomfort can further help you identify what to avoid.

    Want to know more about the diet to follow if you have COPD? Consult a Medcare specialist today.

  • What is the best treatment for COPD?

    A: Although Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) cannot be cured, treatment can help you manage the symptoms and lead a better life. Taking bronchodilators is ideally one of the best treatment options. Bronchodilators essentially help the muscles in your lungs and your airways relax. They also expand the airways, allowing you to breathe easier. They can be taken through a nebuliser or an inhaler which allows the medicine to reach your lungs directly. 

    There are other treatments that you can try, such as oxygen therapy, corticosteroids, surgery, or even incorporating some lifestyle changes to make breathing easier.

    Suffering from shortness of breath or a persistent cough? Book an appointment with a Medcare specialist today for treatment.

  • What medications should be avoided with COPD?

    A: Many patients who suffer from COPD are seldom aware that certain medicines can make their condition worse.

    These include:

    • Opioids: They slow down the respiratory system making it more difficult for COPD patients to breathe. It could also result in a coma or death if consumed in large amounts.
    • Antihistamines: They cause the respiratory system to slow down, causing nearly the same effect as opioids.
    • Diuretics: Patients tend to lose electrolytes and fluids while taking it, impacting their ability to breathe properly. 
    • Beta-Blockers: These can sometimes produce bronchial spasms, aggravating the condition of COPD. 

    Self-medication is always dangerous, so consult your doctor to ensure you don't take medication that deteriorates your condition.

    Want to check what medication can be taken if you're suffering from COPD? Book an appointment with a Medcare specialist today.

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