How Dangerous Are Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases?
Every year on 20th November, the world COPD day is observed. For those not yet aware of it, copd or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease refers to a set of lung disorders that makes breathing for its patients an extremely difficult process. By blocking the airways and making it harder to breathe, it causes increased coughing, wheezing, and mucous production in people.
Various copd complications can affect the health of individuals severely. These complications include developing conditions like pneumonia, copd heart failure, lung cancer, diabetes, among others.
What Is COPD?
As you know, your lungs have many airways and air sacs. They are very elastic. Air is brought into the air sacs through the airways. They inflate and deflate as you exhale. But in the case of COPD, air cannot flow freely in and out of your airways. It happens due to many reasons. Either the airways and air sacs lose their elasticity, or the walls between air sacs become damaged. When the walls of the airways inflame, or when the airways begin to make more mucous, then COPD can also develop.
Pathophysiology of COPD
Human respiratory system, Credit: Pixabay
When you inhale air, it goes down your trachea through tube-like structures called bronchi. Bronchi further branches out into bronchioles, at the end of which are tiny air sacs called alveoli. Capillaries that is, tiny blood vessels are present at the end of alveoli. These capillaries help in the movement of oxygen from the lungs to bloodstream.
COPD’s pathophysiology refers to the negative functional changes that affect the patient’s health. In this case, damage to the airways and air sacs in the lungs progresses until breathing is difficult. Emphysema, a type of COPD lung disorder, is characterized by damaged alveoli. It causes carbon dioxide to remain inside the lungs instead of being exhaled out. Bronchitis, another COPD type, is characterized by inflamed lung airways, and consequently, a greater mucous production. It results in increased coughing, wheezing, and breathing difficulty.
How Is COPD Caused?
A man smoking a cigarette, Credit: Pixabay
Upto 90% of COPD cases originate due to smoking. Other ways by which it afflicts individuals are:
Inhalation of secondhand smoke over a period damages the lungs and airways.
Polluted environment, which contains irritants that damage the lungs.
Genetic disorder like AAT deficiency, which inhibits the production of the AAT enzyme and is responsible for protecting the lungs from swelling.
Out of them, smoking is one of the leading cause of COPD. It is because tobacco, a key ingredient in cigarette irritates and inflames the airways. It makes the airways narrow overtime. Besides, cigarette smoke also makes mucous removal a difficult process.
The icd 10 for copd is J44.9.
Symptoms of COPD
Woman coughing, Credit: Pixabay
The severity of symptoms become more intense as the disease progresses. There is no way to reduce their severity as COPD is not treatable. You can experience the following:
A whistling sound on breathing
Difficulty in breathing
Can COPD Be Treated and Prevented?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for COPD, as of now. There are however, several treatment lines that can slow down the growth of this disease. You can prevent copd through the following steps.
Quit smoking. It is the leading cause of developing this condition.
Avoid going into polluted places so as to limit your exposure to irritants.
Consume a healthy diet and engage in regular physical activity to strengthen your lungs.
Get aware about your family history. You need to know all about AAT deficiency. If anyone in your family has or had it in the past.
COPD is thus a chronic condition which when takes hold of the lungs, refuses to leave it. It is not accompanied by any symptoms in the earlier stages. So you need start inculcating healthy habits to prevent this disease from striking you.