Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a collection of separate lung diseases that get worse over time, especially for those who continue to smoke. It is one of the leading causes of death and illness worldwide, with the most common conditions in the group being emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
Lung damage and partial blockages make it difficult for people with COPD to breath. Most people with the disease have a combination of chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Chronic bronchitis is a long term cough with mucus that blocks the already narrowed airways, while emphysema is the result of long term lung destruction, lessening the surface area and making the oxygen to carbon dioxide exchange more difficult. Smoking is the leading cause of COPD, the more a person smokes, the more likely they are to get the disease.
COPD generally appears in patients over 40 years an age, with varying symptoms that only start to appear after significant damage to the lungs has already been done. Wheezing, shortness of breath, chronic coughing and chest tightness can all be symptoms. The condition continues to get worse if the patient does not stop smoking or receive medical treatment.
There is no cure for COPD, but treatments can ease the symptoms. Once it is diagnosed, the most important thing is for the patient to stop smoking, to reduce further lung damage. Anti-inflammatory medication, steroids, oxygen therapy, bronchodilators through a nebulizer or breathing machine assistance are all possible treatment options. Doctors may also recommend exercise to help maintain leg muscles and a physical therapist to teach the patient to breathe correctly.
HealthNow Healthcare have many years of experience in assisting patients with COPD and their families. Our healthcare professionals can help with transitioning back home after a stay in hospital and help you, your family and your doctor develop a tailored program to: