Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) pertains to two types of chronic medical conditions that may obstruct airflow in the lungs. These two conditions are called emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
Patients suffering from this condition are prone to develop a cough and wheezing, or experience difficulty in breathing, and overproduction of mucus or sputum in the mouth. If you are experiencing these symptoms, consult your primary care doctor in Raleigh for a comprehensive course of treatment.
Largely described as a “man’s disease,” COPD has been ranked as the third leading cause of death due to a progressive disease, according to the American Lung Association. As of 2017, it is believed that 11 million suffer from this condition in the United States alone and the death rate is actually increasing.
The World Health Organization (WHO) cites, on the other hand, that there are 251 million cases of COPD around the world. At least 90% of deaths due to this disease occur in countries with mostly low, or middle-income earners.
WHO also projects that COPD cases will still increase in the years to come as the habit of smoking, especially among men, hasn’t been curbed. Furthermore, as the population of the elderly is increasing, COPD cases will remain high as this group is one of the most vulnerable to the condition.
Common Causes of COPD
The most common culprit blamed for COPD is cigarette or tobacco smoking, including second-hand smoking. However, people exposed to air pollution and other lung irritants like chemicals, gases, or fuel for cooking and heating may also be at risk.
In some cases, men whose jobs involve frequent exposure to fumes, vapors and dust also develop COPD. In fact, first responders and residents in nearby areas during the 9/11 attack in New York have developed or died from COPD because of the massive dust that swept the atmosphere for months, stated by the International Journal on Environmental Research and Public Health.
According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, asthma may also cause the development of COPD. People with a rare genetic condition known as alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency may also end up having COPD in their later years.
At its worst, COPD may lead to lung cancer, heart disease and other complications, especially if the symptoms are not managed or treated.
Symptoms of COPD
Men suffering from chronic bronchitis and emphysema need to be wary of COPD because the symptoms aren’t immediately present. When the coughing fits have been increasingly frequent, however, it’s usually the first cause for concern as the condition in the lungs could be worsening.
A patient needs to get tested and diagnosed with COPD if these symptoms are present:
- An itchy throat
- Tightness of the chest
- Shortness of breath, especially after some physical activities
- Cough with white, yellow or green mucus
- Frequent fatigue and tiredness
- Swelling of the lower legs, ankles and feet
In the late stages, a person with COPD may significantly lose a lot of weight.
Treating and Preventing COPD
There is no specific cure for COPD but this condition is highly preventable if the symptoms are dealt with at an early stage, coupled with some lifestyle changes.
For instance, a man who is a frequent smoker may lower his risk of developing COPD if he quits the habit for good. A healthy diet plan may also curb symptoms like shortness of breath, or tiredness as the body gains more nutrients to fight infection and other common illnesses that could trigger coughs and colds.
Drinking medications to clear the airways and make breathing easier will also reduce the COPD episodes. However, for those with chronic problems in the lungs, it might be a huge benefit to enter into a pulmonary rehabilitation program with a team of doctors, respiratory therapists, or fitness and diet experts.
Learn more about Dr. Schneider in Primary Care, Raleigh
Dr. Schneider’s office provides extended scheduling hours for office visits and a direct 24 hour line of communication every day. Book your appointment with our primary care doctor in Raleigh now! For inquiries, call us at 919-301-8971.
The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.