What is COPD?
COPD is a chronic lung disease that makes it hard to breathe. COPD stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
It is caused by damage to the lungs over many years, usually from cigarette/ Bidi or any other form of smoking. Other things that may put you at risk for COPD include breathing chemical fumes, dust, or air pollution over a long period of time. Secondhand smoke is also bad.
COPD is a mix of two diseases: chronic bronchitis and emphysema. In chronic bronchitis, the airways that carry air to the lungs (bronchial tubes) get inflamed and make a lot of mucus. In emphysema, the air sacs in your lungs are damaged and lose their stretch. Less air gets in and out of your lungs, which makes you feel short of breath.
COPD gets worse over time. You cannot undo the damage to your lungs. Any smoker/exposed person usually over 45 year of age ( also seen in some young individuals with genetic predisposition) may find that:
- A cough that does not go away.
- Mucus that comes up when you cough.
- Shortness of breath that gets worse with activity even when you do simple things like get dressed or fix a meal.
At times, your symptoms may suddenly flare up and get much worse. This is a called a COPD exacerbation . When this happens, your usual symptoms quickly get worse and stay bad and you may require hospitalization.
I have COPD. How can I keep COPD from getting worse?
Don’t smoke. If you already smoke, it is never too late to stop. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines.
- Avoid bad air. Air pollution, chemical fumes, and dust also can make COPD worse.
- Get a flu shot every year. A flu shot may lower your chances of having a COPD flare-up.
- Get a pneumococcal shot. Most people need only one shot to prevent pneumonia, but doctors sometimes recommend a second shot for some people who got their first shot before they turned 65. Talk with your doctor about whether you need a second shot.
How is COPD treated?
COPD is treated with medicines and oxygen. You may be taking medicines such as:
· Bronchodilators. Bronchodilators are either short-acting (work for 6 to 9 hours) or long-acting (work for 24 hours). You inhale most bronchodilators, so they start to act quickly. Always carry your quick-relief inhaler with you in case you need it while you are away from home.
· Corticosteroids. These reduce airway inflammation. They also come in inhaled form.In exacerbations, injections or oral form may be prescribed
· Advanced cases may require Oxygen therapy.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety