Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is a lung condition where the airway passage becomes narrow with mucus build-up, inhibiting the flow of oxygen containing air to and from the lungs. This is caused by the existence of both emphysema and chronic bronchitis in the patient. COPD in some cases also refers to the damage caused to the lungs by chronic asthmatic bronchitis. Here are some consequence-bearing questions you may want to clarify with your physician in case you have been diagnosed with or are a COPD suspect.
1. I have been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). What does this mean?
This means that tobacco particles from smoking and detrimental gases from the burning of tobacco from a lit cigarette have been inhaled and have caused your lung to react adversely to them. In its defense, the lung triggers an inflammatory response (producing phlegm/sputum/mucus), causing chronic bronchitis. The swelling of the airways constricts its cross sectional area and restricts air flow to the lung thus damaging its tissues for good. This causes emphysema. Exacerbations or aggravations of symptoms often occur in COPD patients when exposed to pollutants in the air and respiratory infections.
2. Am I likely to experience any more symptoms besides shortness of breath and the cough with sputum, which I have right now?
If the emphysema is more dominant, then you could experience more wheezing and tightness of the chest. However, if chronic bronchitis is more pronounced in your case, then symptoms of this condition will be more prominent, such as presence of yellow sputum with cough, repeated respiratory infections, and bronchospasms. In other words, the more aggressive of the two ailments will exhibit more prominent symptoms than the other underlying medical condition.
Other common symptoms include fatigue, rhonchus, reduced air flow which steadily worsens, cyanosis (bluish tint to skin), headaches, dizziness, swollen ankles, rapid respiratory rate and chest enlargement, etc.
3. Is COPD infectious?
COPD is not a contagious disease. It is caused by exposure of the airway passage or ducts to the lungs and the lungs itself to toxic pollutants and irritants such as smoking, air pollution, second-hand smoke, and occupational exposures.
Genetics and auto-immune disorders may also play a role. It is not caused by micro-organisms to be transmitted from one person to another.
4. Will I have to undergo more tests besides the blood test I have undergone?
Generally the doctors use a combination of tests to determine the presence of COPD since its symptoms overlap with those of other lung conditions. An example is the spirometry tests that evaluate your capacity to exhale per second (as in volume of air exhaled per second of exhalation), and the largest amount of air exhalable in one large breath. The ratio of these two figures gives an indication of the severity of the COPD and the lung damage. X-rays and CT scans also help show the location, type of damage and extent of damage caused. Pulmonary function tests can also measure the capacity and lung volumes along with gas transfer to indicate hyperinflation. Blood tests will show the blood gas levels in order to check hypoxemia as well as a high blood count for white blood cells.
5. How long will I take to recover completely?
There is no cure for COPD. This disease worsens progressively. The only relief prescribed by the doctors comes from symptomatic tackling of the disease and stopping cigarette smoking all together. It also helps to avoid exposure to air pollutants. Detecting COPD early helps in easier management of the condition.
ALL INFORMATION GIVEN IN THIS ADVOCACY SHEET IS TO BE CHECKED WITH YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE IMPLEMENTING THEM OR TAKING THEM AS STANDARD OR VERIFIED.
Mamta Singh is a published author of the books Migraines for the Informed Woman (Publisher: Rupa & Co.) and the upcoming Rev Up Your Life! (Publisher: Hay House India). She is also a seasoned business, creative and academic writer. She is a certified fitness instructor, personal trainer & sports nutritionist through IFA, Florida USA. Mamta is an NCFE-certified Holistic Health Therapist SAC Dip U.K. She is the lead writer and holds Expert Author status in many well-received health, fitness and nutrition sites. She runs her own popular blogs on migraines in women and holistic health. Mamta holds a double Master's Degree in Commerce and Business. She is a registered practitioner with the UN recognised Art of Living Foundation. Link: http://www.migrainingjenny.wordpress.com and http://www.footstrike.wordpress.com