Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is a term encompassing a number of long-term lung conditions that can result in breathing difficulties or persistent cough. COPD is usually caused by smoking and tend to worsen in time, especially during the winter months.
At first, COPD symptoms might be mild or nonexistent, but as the disease progresses with time, you might notice phlegmatic cough and the onset of breathlessness. Persistent cough, lack of breath while exercising, and wheezing are common. Many COPD patients suffer from weight loss and extreme tiredness as well. You might start waking up in the middle of the night as a result of breathlessness.
The chronic obstructive pulmonary disease cannot be cured and it’s impossible to reverse the damages done to your lungs. However, COPD can be treated and with proper care the symptoms can be managed. The type of treatment will largely depend on your unique circumstances.
One of the common tests for COPD is a pulmonary function test spirometer. The spirometer measures the capacity of air the lungs can hold and the how quickly air can be blown out of the lungs. Another test which is used to evaluate possible COPD is a blood test, the arterial blood gas analysis. This test measures the ability of your lungs to bring in oxygen while removing carbon dioxide.
You can start by improving your lifestyle. Well-balanced diet and proper nutrition are essential and can prevent the worsening of your symptoms. Make sure that you also drink enough fluid, preferably water, as it will reduce the thickness of the mucus, produced by the lungs. Regular exercise and walking for 20-30 minutes are vital as well. You might also consider getting a flu vaccination every year, and especially the Streptococcus pneumoniae bacterium one, as it will prevent the development of pneumonia.
Your doctor might decide to prescribe special medication to treat your COPD as well. These include bronchodilators, which will widen your airways and allow the air to pass more freely, and reduce your breathlessness and wheezing as a result. If you suffer from severe COPD, you might also need steroids to reduce the inflammation of your airways. The mucolytics will break down the phlegm and mucus produced by the lungs.