- 1 WHAT IS COPD?
- 2 Causes of COPD
- 3 Symptoms of COPD
- 4 Diagnosis of COPD
- 5 Treatment of COPD
WHAT IS COPD?
COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is a progressive disease that makes it hard to breathe. “Progressive” means the disease gets worse over time.
Causes of COPD
COPD is most often caused by smoking. Most people with COPD are long-term smokers, and research shows that smoking cigarettes increases the risk of getting COPD
- Some studies show that up to half of long-term smokers older than age 60 get COPD.
- Smoking both tobacco and marijuana increases the risk of COPD more than smoking either one.
COPD is often a mix of two diseases: Chronic Bronchitis and emphysema. Both of these diseases are caused by smoking. Although you can have chronic bronchitis or emphysema, people more often have a mixture of both diseases.
Other possible causes of COPD include:
- Long-term exposure to lung irritants such as industrial dust and chemical fumes.
- Preterm birth that leads to lung damage (neonatal chronic lung disease).
- Inherited factors (genes), including alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. This is a rare condition in which your body may not be able to make enough of a protein (alpha-1 antitrypsin) that helps protect the lungs from damage. People who have this disorder and who smoke generally start to have symptoms of emphysema in their 30s or 40s. Those who have this disorder but don’t smoke generally start to have symptoms in their 80s.
Symptoms of COPD
The most common symptoms of COPD are sputum production, shortness of breath and a productive cough. These symptoms are present for a prolonged period of time and typically worsen over time.
- Cough: A chronic cough is often the first symptom to occur. When it exists for more than three months a year for more than two years, in combination with sputum production and without another explanation, there is by definition chronic bronchitis. This condition can occur before COPD fully develops. The amount of sputum produced can change over hours to days.
- Shortness of Breath: Shortness of breath is often the symptom that bothers people the most. It is commonly described as: “my breathing requires effort,” “I feel out of breath,” or “I can’t get enough air in”. Different terms, however, may be used in different cultures. Typically the shortness of breath is worse on exertion of a prolonged duration and worsens over time.
- In COPD, it may take longer to breathe out than to breathe in. Chest tightness may occur.but is not common and may be caused by another problem. Those with obstructed airflow may have wheezing or decreased sounds with air entry on examination of the chest with a stethoscope. A barrel chest is a characteristic sign of COPD, but is relatively uncommon. Tripod positioning may occur as the disease worsens.
- Advanced COPD leads tohigh pressure on the lung arteries, which strains the right ventricle of the heart This situation is referred to as cor pulmonale, and leads to symptoms of leg swelling and bulging neck veins. COPD is more common than any other lung disease as a cause of cor pulmonale. Cor pulmonale has become less common since the use of supplemental oxygen.
· Exacerbation: An acute exacerbation of COPD is defined as increased shortness of breath, increased sputum production, a change in the color of the sputum from clear to green or yellow, or an increase in cough in someone with COPD. This may present with signs of increased work of breathing such as fast breathing, a fast heart rate, and sweating, active use of muscles in the neck, a bluish tinge to the skin, and confusion or combative behavior in very severe exacerbations. Crackles may also be heard over the lungs on examination with a stethoscope.
Diagnosis of COPD
If any patient is at risk for COPD or have symptoms of COPD, the patient should be tested through spirometry. Spirometry is a simple test of how well our lungs work. For this test, if one blow air into a mouthpiece and tubing attached to a small machine the machine measures the amount of air you blow out and how fast you can blow it.
The doctor will also ask for a complete health history and do a health exam.
They may also want you to have a chest x-ray and/or other tests, like an arterial blood gas test.
Treatment of COPD
There is no cure for COPD. Treatment can help relieve your symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. The main goals of COPD treatment are to:
- make you feel better
- keep the disease from getting worse
- help you stay active
- prevent and treat complications
- improve your overall health
Life style changes for COPD
The first and most important thing you should do is quit smoking, and avoid starting if you don’t smoke. You should also reduce the air pollution in your environment as much as possible. Avoid secondhand smoke and stay away from places with dust, fumes, and other toxic substances you might inhale.
It is also important to eat a healthy diet. The fatigue and breathing difficulty of COPD might make it difficult to eat. Smaller, more frequent meals might help. Your doctor might suggest vitamin and mineral supplements. It might also be helpful to rest before meals.
Exercise is important but may be difficult for some. Physical activity can strengthen the muscles that help you breathe. Talk to your doctor about the physical activities that are right for you.
Medications: A variety of medications might be used to treat the symptoms of COPD.
Bronchodilators usually come in an inhaler form. Inhalers deliver the medication directly to your lungs and airways. These medications help to open constricted (narrowed) airways so you can breathe easier. There are two classes of bronchodilators: β-agonists and anticholinergics.
β-agonists bind directly to beta receptors on smooth muscle cells to mediate their bronchodilatory effect.
. β-agonists may be short-acting (e.g. albuterol) or long-acting (e.g. salmeterol).
The short-acting β-agonists are often referred to as “rescue inhalers” because they can be used to swiftly improve breathing during a COPD flare-up.
Long-acting β-agonists, which are used twice a day, are part of maintenance therapy.
Anticholinergic medications, such as Atrovent, also come in inhalers and can be used every four to six hours. Anticholinergic medications work by blocking the chemical acetylcholine, which causes the airways to constrict.
Corticosteroids, such as prednisone, reduce irritation and swelling in the airway. They are particularly effective if you have been exposed to an infection or an irritant such as secondhand smoke, extreme temperatures, or harsh fumes. Corticosteroids may be delivered by inhaler, nebulizer, tablet, or injection.
Corticosteroids are associated with many unpleasant side effects. These may include weight gain, water retention, weakening of the bones, and a depressed immune system. For this reason, they are primarily used during a severe flare-up or exacerbation of COPD symptoms. They may also be used late in the disease process if you are troubled by shortness of breath and if bronchodilators alone are not helpful.
Respiratory infections can make the symptoms of COPD worse. If you have an infection, which is often the case when symptoms suddenly worsen, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics. Antibiotics kill bacteria. They do not kill viruses. Your doctor may do tests to determine exactly what type of infection you have and what antibiotic will be most effective. Antibiotics should be used only when needed.
Smoking Cessation Medications
Quitting smoking can improve your health and your quality of life with or without COPD. As nicotine is highly addictive, many doctors offer patients nicotine replacement therapy to ease their cravings for cigarettes. Nicotine replacement treatments may come in gums, patches, and even inhalers. Some antidepressants have been clinically proven to reduce or eliminate smoking, but people should be aware of side effects. If your doctor prescribes medication, be sure to ask about the side effects.
Anxiolytics (Anti-Anxiety Medications)
As COPD progresses and you have a harder time getting the air you need into your lungs, you may be overcome with anxiety. Anxiolytic medications such as diazepam (Valium) and alprazolam (Xanax) have been shown to calm patients in the late and terminal stages of COPD, thus producing an improved quality of life.
Opioids, also known as narcotic medications or painkillers, work by depressing the central nervous system. This decreases your need for oxygen and eases that feeling of “air hunger,” the distress signal your brain sends when it is not getting enough oxygen.
Opioids are most commonly given as a liquid and absorbed through the membranes in your mouth.
Because opioids can be addictive and can suppress breathing, they are usually used only during the late and terminal stages of COPD, often when you have decided that you want no further aggressive or life-prolonging treatment.
Throughout the course of COPD, several drugs have shown themselves to be effective in lessening distressing symptoms, slowing disease progression, improving quality of life, and even extending life.
Homeopathy treatment for COPD
Homeopathy is one of the most popular holistic systems of medicine. The selection of remedy is based upon the theory of individualization and symptoms similarity by using holistic approach. This is the only way through which a state of complete health can be regained by removing all the sign and symptoms from which the patient is suffering. The aim of homeopathy is not only to treat COPD symptoms but to address its underlying cause and individual susceptibility. As far as therapeutic medication is concerned, several medicines are available for COPD symptoms treatment that can be selected on the basis of cause, sensation, modalities of the complaints.
Few of the indicated remedies are:
1) Bryonia alba: Cough dry as if coming from stomach with stitches in side of chest. rest, lying on painful side, pressure. Thirst for large quantities of water at long intervals. Constipation, dry, hard stool Irritable temperament.
2) Phosphorus: Young tall, weak, narrow chest, anxious look with pale face. Bleeding tendency, sensitive to odours Great anxiety about future & his own health, Fear of darkness & being alone. Catches cold easily with desire for open air Desires – cold drinks, salt, spices. Pain chest < lying on left side, inspiration & cough
3) Sulphur: Alternatively cold and hot burning feet, which must be put out of bed to cool them. lean, debitilated & stoop shouldered . Red dry lips Constipation with difficult & hard stool Morning diarrhea, drives out of bed. Drinks much & eats less. Accompanied skin complaints
4)Arsenic alb: Anxiety about own health Warm drinks. Drinks little and frequently.
5)Calcarea carb: Leuco-phlegmatic Constitution, takes cold easily Fat or very thin Sweaty head on sleeping which soaks the pillow Desire eggs. Affinity for Right middle lobe of lung complaints. Dyspnoea < ascending stairs, exertion, cold Early, profuse menses. Ice-cold feet, wants to wear socks yet want to uncover them when warm
These are few of the Homeopathic medicines which form part of our specially formulated treatment for COPD. Meet our specialist today to know more about our speciality treatment for COPD.