World COPD Day 2021: What Is The Effect Of COPD On Lungs? Expert Talks About Treatment Options And Prevention

On World COPD Day 2021, here is the effect of COPD on lungs and the treatment options and prevention tips for the disease.

Navya Kharbanda
Written by: Navya KharbandaUpdated at: Nov 18, 2021 12:11 IST
World COPD Day 2021: What Is The Effect Of COPD On Lungs? Expert Talks About Treatment Options And Prevention

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COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is the term use for a group of lung diseases that can worsen with time. The term "progressive" describes a disease that worsens with time. These chronic inflammatory illnesses are known for obstructing airflow. Patients with COPD are more likely to develop heart disease, lung cancer, and various other disorders.

Although there is no cure, but with proper management and treatment, a person can acquire control of their symptoms, reduce their risk of developing other diseases, and live a quality life. The main cause of COPD is due to smoking. World COPD day is marked on November 18, every year, to raise awareness about the disease. On World COPD Day 2021, Onlymyhealth editorial team spoke to Dr. K S Satish, Senior Consultant - Pulmonology & Chest Medicine, Fortis Hospital Cunningham Road, to know about the effect of COPD on lungs, and ways to treatment and prevent it. 

What Effects Does COPD Have On The Lungs?


Air passes down the trachea (windpipe) and into the lungs via the bronchi tubes when a person breathes. The bronchi divide into multiple smaller tubes called bronchioles, much like a tree branch. At the end of the little tubes, tiny sacs can be observed (alveoli). Alveoli have thin walls made up of small blood arteries (capillaries). Through these blood capillaries, air enters the body's bloodstream, and carbon dioxide is ejected simultaneously. The bronchial tubes provide flexibility to the lungs, while the air sacs push the air out of the body. COPD affects these tubes and sacs, causing them to over-expand and retain air in the lungs even after a person has exhaled.

COPD irritates the lungs' airways, limiting the amount of air that can travel in and out. COPD symptoms are caused by the body receiving less oxygen and making it difficult for carbon dioxide to escape the body. COPD symptoms include coughing, mucus, wheezing, dyspnea, and chest tightening. 

Also read: Health Benefits Of COPD Breathing Exercise

COPD Diagnosis and Treatment

Aside from the doctor's questions about symptoms and family history, a few tests to confirm a COPD diagnosis may be recommended. One of the most reliable procedures for diagnosing COPD is the spirometry test, which measures the speed and amount of breath a person can blast out of their lungs. Another test that can determine how much oxygen is present in a person's blood is oximetry (oxygen saturation). COPD can be diagnosed through blood tests, peak flow tests, ECGs, chest X-rays, CT scans, and other diagnostics.

lung therapy

Pulmonary rehabilitation is a form of fitness program for people suffering from lung diseases like COPD. The first step to be taken to control COPD is to quit smoking. If the person's breathing is hindered, an inhaler may be recommended. Other COPD therapies include long-term oxygen therapy, nebulized medication, or even surgery for those with severe COPD. COPD requires long-term management and significantly impacts a person's lifestyle. Visit the doctor to get timely latest treatment for the disease. Receiving timely treatment will help the patient live a more enjoyable life with this chronic condition via therapy and symptom management. The best person to diagnose COPD and manage the disease is the pulmonologist. Other common COPD treatments include:

1. Medications 

Bronchodilators, inhaled steroids, combination inhalers. phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitors and theophyllines are some medicines that can be used for COPD. 

2. Lung therapies 

Pulmonary rehabilitation and oxygen therapy programs involving education, exercise training, nutritional advice, and counseling to improve life quality.

3. Surgeries 

Lung volume reduction surgery, lung transplant, or bullectomy are also treatment options for COPD. 

Also read: What is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)? Causes, Signs, Risk Factors And Preventive Measures

COPD prevention 

The topmost prevention tip fot COPD is restrict smoking. Cigarette smoking is one of the causes of COPD. COPD patients can be afflicted by other respiratory disorders such as influenza or flu. Furthermore, it is widely acknowledged that COPD does not affect all smokers. It could also be caused by long-term exposure to irritants. Along with that, it is also important to take a healthy diet and engage into regular physical exercise. You should also try and avoid going in areas with too much air pollution or chemical toxic fumes. 


COPD Symptoms

COPD affects a person's ability to breathe. Initially, symptoms may be mild, but it become severe, frequent, or continuous as the illness worsens. Many people are unaware of the early signs and symptoms of COPD. As a result, it is frequently overlooked until the condition has progressed. Excess mucus (phlegm) production, shortness of breath (dyspnea) following activity or even climbing a few stairs, respiratory infections such as colds and flu frequently, and colds and flu are common respiratory illnesses are common symptoms. Weariness, weight loss, blue or grey fingernails (an indication of low blood oxygen levels), inability to speak, confusion, and other symptoms may occur in the final stages of COPD, necessitating immediate medical intervention.

Also read: What Is The Link Between COPD And Air Pollution? Know Expert Tips To Manage Them

Types of COPD Diseases

Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the two main illnesses that cause COPD. These illnesses can strike simultaneously, but the symptoms and severity of each disorder vary from person to person. A complication of COPD is refractory asthma. Chronic bronchitis inflames the linings of the lungs' airways, which convey air to and from the lungs' air sacs. One of the most prevalent symptoms of chronic bronchitis is regular coughing and mucus production. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, recurring infections, and disability.

Emphysema is a condition in which the alveoli's fragile walls and elastic fibers are destroyed. As a person exhales, tiny airways collapse out of the lungs. The sacs are permanently damaged, resulting in holes in the lung tissue. Refractory asthma does not respond to standard asthma medications. It's also known as an uncontrollable asthma attack.

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