Causes, symptoms and treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) causes difficulty breathing and is a serious health risk. Here are the causes, diagnosis and prevention strategies to protect your lungs. Quit smoking, avoid second-hand smoke, ensure proper ventilation and adopt a healthier lifestyle.

Is lighting a cigarette the most cathartic part of your day? Or do you live or work with someone who has been smoking for years? If you have been actively or passively exposed to lung irritants for a long time, you are likely to suffer from COPD.

A serious health problem, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Over time, the prevalence of this condition is only increasing, and so is the mortality rate. This includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema, which make it difficult for the sufferer to breathe.

According to the American Lung Association, COPD is sometimes called “smoker’s disease.” This causes problems such as persistent cough, phlegm, chest tightness, inability to take deep breaths, and difficulty breathing during daily activities. People with COPD may have had pneumonia in the past and often have the same symptoms. Over time, they may also lose weight and muscle mass, causing anxiety or depression because they have been ill for a long time.

Besides the obvious – smoking, risk factors include people over 40 years of age, air pollution in the surroundings, occupations exposed to dust and chemicals, and passive smoking. Genetic involvement suggests alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, which acts as a predisposing factor in COPD.

The condition is diagnosed using guidelines called the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD). This includes a test called spirometry, which measures how well your lungs are working. The severity of symptoms and their impact on a person’s daily life, as well as other medical conditions, are also taken into account to determine the diagnosis.

Here are ways to prevent the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Quit smoking: The main cause of COPD is smoking. It damages the lungs by entering the tiny air sacs called alveoli, which are responsible for gas exchange. Smoking can cause inflammation or collapse of the alveoli, permanently damaging them. This leads to a decrease in oxygen levels in the body as the airways are blocked. To quit, you can start by meditating and finding ways to eliminate the stressors that make you want to smoke.

Avoid passive smoking: The above-mentioned consequences can also occur in people who do not smoke themselves, but are constantly around smokers. Passive smoking is harmful and increases the risk of lung cancer, heart attack and stroke. It would be advisable to create special smoking areas in workplaces or public places to protect people from passive smoking.

Ventilation: If working near a fireplace or a wood-burning stove, it is recommended to provide a sufficiently ventilated room. Even at home, ventilation is crucial as it can help prevent the effects of secondhand smoke.

Personal protective equipment: Although there has been a global increase in the use of PPE during the COVID-19 pandemic, personal protective equipment should also be used if you work in industries where you are exposed to fumes, dust or chemicals. Using breathing masks and face shields can help prevent exposure to harmful compounds.

A healthier routine: A multi-nutrient diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help boost immunity. Physical exercise is also just as important and can help prevent symptoms from getting worse. However, it should be combined with smoking cessation.

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