Are you at risk of COPD?
November 23, 2018
What is COPD?COPD, (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) is one of the most common respiratory diseases in the UK. is the name for a collection of lung diseases including chronic bronchitis, emphysema and chronic obstructive airways disease. Most people are not diagnosed until they are in their 50s, but people have been found to be diagnosed over the age of 35. It is thought there are more than 3 million people living with the disease in the UK. COPD affects more men than women.
What causes COPD?It is primarily caused by Smoking. Smoking irritates the lungs and causes scaring and the more you smoke and the longer you have been a regular smoker, the more chance you have of getting COPD. Over time, the damage by inflammation tends to lead to damage of the lungs and the walls of the airways thicken and more mucus is produced. Damage to the delicate walls of the air sacs in the lungs causes emphysema and the lungs lose their normal elasticity. The smaller airways also become scarred and narrowed. These changes cause the symptoms of breathlessness, cough and phlegm associated with COPD. Some rarer cases of COPD are caused by fumes, dust, air pollution and genetic disorders, but usually it is caused by smoking.
What are the symptoms of COPD?Breathing difficulties is the main symptom, as COPD causes airflow obstruction – narrowing of their airways.
Typical symptoms of COPD include:
- Increasing breathlessness when taking part in physical activities.
- Frequent chest infections
- Chest tightness.
- Having to clear your throat first thing in the morning, due to excess mucus in your lungs.
- A chronic cough that may produce mucus (sputum) that may be clear, white, yellow or greenish.
How is COPD diagnosed?COPD is usually diagnosed by your GP, followed by a series of breathing tests. If you think you have any of the symptoms noted above, then it is important to speak to your GP asap, to slow down the damage to the lungs.
Can I reverse COPD?Sadly not, the damage to your lungs has been done. However quitting smoking is effective at helping to slow down the progression of the disease.
What medication will I need to take?Treatments for COPD usually involve using an inhaler to make breathing easier and to relieve symptoms. Pulmonary rehabilitation can help with some people and help with exercise that are able to do. Surgery is only an option for a small number of people with COPD.
What is life expectancy like with COPD?Life expectancy usually depends on what stage of COPD you are diagnosed as having and if you make changes in your life quickly. If diagnosed with COPD, quitting smoking, can make a huge impact on life and expectancy. Taking medication as prescribed is important and being as active as possible is encouraged. Breathing techniques can help to make living with the condition more manageable.
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