World COPD Day: Pulmonologist Tells Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About COPD

World COPD Day: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is mainly caused by regular smoking. Read here to know about diagnosis and treatment options of this disease which cannot be treated, but can be controlled with changes in lifestyle.


Highlights

  • World COPD Day: Drink plenty of fluids for COPD management
  • Maintaining a healthy weight is also important
  • Be on point with your medicines to control COPD

World COPD Day: November 20 is observed as World Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Day. This day is meant to raise awareness about COPD which is referred to a group of slowly progressing lung diseases. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are common lung diseases. Emphysema slowly destroys air sacs in your lungs, which interferes with outward air flow. Bronchitis causes inflammation and narrowing of the bronchial tubes, which allows mucus to build up. The main cause of COPD are active tobacco smoking. Avid smokers are likely to develop COPD faster. But smoking is not the only cause of COPD. Long-term exposure to certain gases, fumes, chemicals ,dust and passive smoking can also lead to COPD. It is a disease that takes long time to develop. On World COPD Day, we are going to talk about top causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of COP.

World COPD Day: Everything you need to know about COPD

COPD diagnosis

Diagnosis is usually based on combination of history, examination and confirmation of the presence of airflow limitation with the help of spirometer and sometimes chest x-ray and chest CT- scan.

In younger patients, or in those who are not exposed to cigarette smoking or other factors, consider a genetic cause such as Alpha- 1- Antitrypsin (A1AT) deficiency.

Also read: Diet Tips For People With COPD

COPD treatment

Unfortunately there is no cure for COPD but medications can help ease symptoms, decrease lung function decline, lower the chances of complications and improve the quality of life. Medications, especially inhalers can also be recommended by the expert. Pulmonary rehabilitation is very important. It teaches you to breathe in a different way so you can stay healthy. Surgery is also a form of treatment in selected cases; lung transplant or lung reduction surgery. Flu vaccination annually and others like pneumococcal, according to the guidelines are recommended.

A chest physician can accurately diagnose your illness, assess severity and make a treatment plan especially for you. Untreated, COPD can lead to a faster progression of disease, heart problems, and worsening respiratory infections.

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Active smokers are at risk of COPD
Photo Credit: iStock

Also read: Can A Person With COPD Get Better? Some Lifestyle Changes Which Can Help

Lifestyle management for COPD

1. A healthy diet is important for maintaining overall health. The stronger you are, the more able you'll be to prevent complications and other health problems.

2. Drink plenty of fluids. Drinking at least six to eight 8-ounce glasses of noncaffeinated liquids a day can help keep mucus thinner. This may make the mucus easier to cough out.

3. Maintaining a healthy weight is important. It takes more energy to breathe when you have COPD, so you might need to take in more calories. But if you're overweight, your lungs and heart may have to work harder.

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Maintain a healthy weight to manage COPD
Photo Credit: iStock

4. A full stomach makes it harder for your lungs to expand, leaving you short of breath. If that happens, try these remedies:

  • Clear your airways about an hour before a meal.
  • Take smaller bites of food that you chew slowly before swallowing.
  • Swap three meals a day for five or six smaller meals.
  • Save fluids until the end so you feel less full during the meal.

Also read: Top Home Remedies For COPD Patients To Ease Breathlessness

One can prevent COPD by quitting smoking and not allowing others to smoke around. This slows the progression of the disease and reduces the risk of exacerbations. Twenty minutes of moderate exercise three times a week helps reduce the risk of heart disease, decreases shortness of breath and improves your well-being. If you are unable to do 20 minutes of exercise or if you can't do your normal activities due to shortness of breath, ask your health care provider to send you to pulmonary rehabilitation. Take medications as many of the medicines used to treat COPD are not expensive and the type of medication (inhaler) can be suited to your care.

(Dr Shweta Bansal is Consultant Pulmonology and Critical Care, Vimhans Nayati Super specialty Hospital, New Delhi)

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