Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease often referred to as COPD, is a disease that makes breathing difficult. Most people who have been diagnosed with COPD, have a combination of Chronic Bronchitis and Emphysema.
- Chronic Bronchitis happens when your airways become inflamed and blocked mucus, interrupting the normal flow of air into the lungs.
- Emphysema occurs when the air sacs in the lungs become damaged making it difficult to replace old stale air with fresh new air. A person with emphysema will often experience shortness of breath.
COPD is most often caused by smoking, but can also be caused by long-term exposure to dust, pollution, strong fumes and can sometimes even be hereditary.
Risk Factors of COPD
There are things that you may be doing or allowing yourself to be exposed to that can put you at a higher risk for COPD. If you can eliminate or decrease these factors in your life, you will be greatly decreasing your risk of getting COPD.
- Smoking – We all know that smoking is dangerous. If you smoke, you definitely put yourself at a greater risk of getting COPD
- Second-Hand Smoke – Non-smokers who breathe in second hand smoke are still being exposed to nicotene and its toxins
- Asthma – A person who has asthma is at an increased risk for developing COPD (NOTE: having asthma does not mean that you will develop COPD)
- Long Term Exposure to Dust & Chemicals – Long term exposure to dust, chemicals or strong fumes can irritate the lungs causing them to become inflamed
- Heredity – Sometimes uncommon genetic factors can make a person more susceptible to COPD
Diagnosing COPD can be difficult as symptoms may be mild or non-existent at first. This happens because often times, healthy lung tissue overtakes unhealthy tissue for a while, so symptoms do not show up as easily. The following are some common symptoms of COPD. Keep in mind that the presence of these symptoms does not meant that COPD is definitely present. Other factors could be causing this and only a doctor can properly determine whether or not someone has COPD.
- Coughing (with mucus present)
- tightness in the chest
- shortness of breath
- Frequent respiratory infections
While there is no known cure for COPD, there are a wide range of treatment s, medicines and therapies available to you. Pathfinder Home Healthcare will work with you and your doctor to make sure that you are receiving the best treatment options for you.