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Definition of Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD

Definition of COPD

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD is defined as a progressive inflammation and bronchial obstruction, reversible depending on the degree of the disease. COPD is primarily due to tobacco and cause damage to the lung and bronchus. The obstruction leads gradually reduced caliber of the bronchi, thus preventing the passage of air (with breathlessness on exertion, and for minimal effort, and finally at rest). Long silent, COPD occurs unfortunately already late stage of the disease.

Causes and risks of COPD

Between 6 and 8% of the adult population suffer from COPD, more than 3.5 million people. COPD causes 16,000 deaths each year and 100,000 patients require oxygen or breathing equipment at home (1).

In 80% of cases, COPD is caused by smoking. Underdiagnosed, COPD develops low noise, until the first symptoms, chronic respiratory failure and premature death. The sufferers are smokers or ex-smokers, mostly men, from 45.

Origins of COPD

The risk factors for COPD are identified and tobacco is the main cause (80% of COPD). Other exposures (occupational exposure to chemicals, exposure to domestic smoke ...) are also the cause of COPD. All these factors cause irritation and contraction of the bronchi with a cough. Inflammation thickens the airway wall and makes the air passage difficult. Over time, chronic irritation makes the elimination of mucus produced (secretion) difficult, aggravating the obstruction and symptoms.

Signs and symptoms of COPD
The existence of a cough with phlegm (sputum) for several months (at least 3 months per year) for at least 2 years defines chronic bronchitis. Sputum occur in a special way in the morning because the secretions accumulate night ("morning toilet"). This cough and sputum these are often trivialized by smokers whereas it is the contrary of the first warning signs, evidence of bronchial inflammation. This chronic bronchitis is one of the manifestations of COPD.

Other symptoms exist, such as emphysema. It corresponds to an irreversible destruction of alveoli.
The consequence of these symptoms are breathlessness called dyspnea, first effort and efforts to more trivial. At the final stage, shortness of COPD occurs at rest, often requiring oxygen therapy.

COPD Prevention

With what should we be confused?

Asthma and COPD are both respiratory illnesses resulting in shortness of breath. Asthma can occur at any age and is reversible with treatment. In the majority of patients with asthma, asthma control can be achieved to reduce symptoms, prevent crises and achieve a satisfactory quality of life and sustainable development.

Is there a prevention possible?

COPD can not be cured completely, but a healthy lifestyle improves symptoms. Prevention relies on essential stop smoking (including passive smoking). Exposure to harmful agents in the bronchi and the lungs must be avoided (toxic agents, pollution ...).

A balanced diet, weight reduction if overweight also help reduce the effects of COPD.
Vaccinations (influenza, pneumococcal) and early treatment of infections are also part of prevention.

COPD Preparing consultation

When consulted for COPD?
COPD should be suspected and diagnosed in an individual smoker (or ex-smoker) who coughs and spits in the morning. It is important not to trivialize this symptom as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease untreated evolves irreversibly towards a narrowing of the airways and increased signs to respiratory failure.

What is the COPD doctor cons?
The doctor will perform an examination and a clinical examination to assess the severity of the disease and rule out other diagnoses. The key consideration is the measurement of breath to establish a definitive diagnosis of COPD. This measure of the degree of bronchial obstruction is with spirometry or complete pulmonary function tests (PFT). Examination, simple and painless, involves blowing into the mouthpiece of the device.

Besides prevention tips and lifestyle, there are treatments that are part of a respiratory rehabilitation. Pulmonary rehabilitation is an individualized care plan including medical care (bronchodilators dilate the bronchi), muscle rehabilitation and respiratory therapy education, support and smoking cessation counseling and / or social.

The physician, in conjunction with the doctor pulmonologist, is working with many professionals (physiotherapist, occupational therapist, nurses ...).

How to prepare my next visit for COPD?
The role of the patient and his environment is essential. Treatment is symptomatic most often needs to be adapted and updated in terms of its effectiveness. Therefore noted improvement factors or opposite of aggravation, for transmission to the healthcare team.

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