Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease refers to a chronic inflammatory lung disease that may be a cause of a group of different progressive lung diseases. The most common of these diseases are emphysema and chronic bronchitis, which often occur simultaneously but may vary in severity between individuals.
Emphysema is a condition whereby the alveoli (air sacs), responsible for the absorption of oxygen into the bloodstream, are destroyed through various means like cigarette smoke or other irritants. Bronchitis is the inflammation of the bronchial tubes, which carry air from the trachea to the air sacs and back again, which results in increased mucus production and destruction of the bronchial tubes’ lining.
COPD, if left unchecked, can increase the risk of developing other serious conditions like heart disease and lung cancer. Hence, it is important to regularly manage symptoms. If you think you are at risk of COPD, we recommend you visit a professional immediately to discuss the probability of developing the disease, and what treatment options are available. These Pulmonologist in Lahore are great options if you need an appointment in that city.
There may not be any noticeable symptoms during the early stages of the disease as no significant lung damage would have occurred. However, as the disease progresses symptoms become increasingly more noticeable. These include:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, progressing from occurrence after intense exercise to simple tasks like walking up and down staircases
- Cough, beginning mild but increasing with frequency, eventually accompanied by mucus that may appear white, yellow or greenish
- A need to clear one’s throat regularly due to the build-up of mucus
- Regular occurrences of respiratory infections like the flu
- Fatigue and a lack of energy or lethargy
- A feeling of tightness in the chest
- Unintended and inexplicable weight loss
- Swelling of the feet, ankles and/or legs
- Cyanosis, or a bluing of the fingernail beds or the lips
Symptoms may worsen at irregular intervals, which are called exacerbations. Symptoms may also be worsened by exposure to irritants or cigarette smoke.
The main cause that has been identified in the development of COPD is tobacco smoking. It may also be caused by regular exposure to fumes or irritants involved in coal burning or other fuel usage, as well as industrial chemicals.
Another rare cause of COPD is Alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency. Alpha-1-antitrypsin is a protein made in the liver that protects the lungs. A genetic disorder may result in low levels of the protein, leading to a variety of negative lung conditions like lung disease and, of course, COPD. For individuals with this deficiency, treating COPD may be as simple as replacing the protein in addition to treatment for other common causes of COPD.
Some common factors that may increase the risk of developing the disease include:
- Asthma: Individuals suffering from asthma, a chronic inflammatory airway disease, may be at higher risk of COPD.
- Environment: Exposure to certain chemical irritants and pollutants at workspaces or homesteads may increase the likelihood of developing the disease. If fuel is regularly burned to heat up homes, as is the case in underdeveloped countries, and there is not adequate ventilation, the fumes may cause irritation and inflammation of the airways.
- Genetics: Apart from alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency, there are other genetic factors that make smokers more susceptible to developing the disease as well.
If you have been suffering from symptoms of COPD, we highly recommend you visit a physician as soon as possible to get an accurate diagnose and begin treatment. The physicians at Surgimed Hospital in Lahore are great options.