These New Advances In COPD Treatments Could Totally Change Your Life

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In America alone, over 12 million people suffer from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, otherwise known as COPD. Not only is it the ‘leading cause of death in the United States,’ reports also show that another 12 million have it but are also left undiagnosed, yet still suffer from its long-term effects. Although there is still no cure for COPD, more and more studies and treatments have surfaced to help patients deal with this lifelong disease. They all work towards finding ways to get this staggering number of COPD diagnosed-patients down. But first, let’s delve deeper into what COPD actually is, and what these new treatments can do for those that have been diagnosed with this deadly disease.

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What Is COPD?

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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), as the name suggests, is a sickness that affects a person’s respiratory system by blocking the airways due to a number of different reasons. While smoking is the primary cause of COPD, other chronic breathing disorders are factors as well, like ‘asthma, chronic bronchitis or emphysema,’ aside from other environmental reasons like pollution and other types of work settings. When left untreated, it will not only worsen, but it can also eventually cause death. Thankfully, with the proper diagnosis and new and upcoming treatments, people suffering from COPD can have a chance to not only live longer, but they can manage their symptoms and have a much better quality of life. The following are signs and symptoms of COPD.

 

Signs And Symptoms Of COPD

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More often than not, people suffering from COPD don’t even know that they have it. What they believe is just a normal every cold or cough, is apparently much worse than they originally assumed. Here are 12 signs and symptoms that you need to watch out for if you think that you, or someone you know, is suffering from COPD.

 

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1. Shortness Of Breath

One obvious but unassuming symptom of COPD is shortness of breath, even when doing something incredibly mundane or simple. If you find that you are struggling to take in air, even when doing little to almost no physical activity, even when even talking leaves you breathless, then you could be suffering from COPD.

 

2. Having To Clear Your Throat First Thing In The Morning

If you find that you are waking up in the morning and have mucous in your throat that needs clearing, this could actually be an obvious sign that you are suffering from COPD. While it has the same feeling as when you have a cold, and you constantly feel the need to clear the mucous out of your throat all the time, then do yourself a favor and go and get tested.

 

3. Coughing Or Wheezing For No Reason

Just like having difficulty breathing, even if you happen to be doing nothing at all, if you find yourself coughing or wheezing, then you should have yourself checked by a doctor. On the off chance that it’s not due to COPD, it could still be other issues that could eventually lead to COPD like asthma or emphysema.

 

4. Mucus Changes

Mucus is a normal fluid that the body produces that is highly important for it to function properly. Depending on the body’s physical state, mucus can be found in many different forms; slimy, extra thick, clear, green, or in excess, as well as many others. If you happen to be producing more mucus than usual, if it’s more yellow or green in color, and if there’s blood in it, you should see your doctor right away to get tested for COPD.

 

5. Sleeplessness Or Trouble Sleeping

When you suffer from COPD your entire body suffers, mostly from the lack of the oxygen circulation. If you have difficulty sleeping at all, or fall asleep but find yourself restless and waking up more often and not being able to fall back asleep, it could be because of a lack of oxygen to the brain, which is another symptom that you are suffering from COPD.

 

6. Constant Fatigue

COPD creates issues with the flow of oxygen throughout the body since it manages to interfere and even constrict the airflow of the respiratory system. And when a body lacks oxygen, the normal effect is feeling overly tired or terribly fatigued. If you feel tired all the time, have yourself checked for COPD.

 

7. Swelling Of The Ankles Or Legs

Again, when there is a lack of oxygen flowing through the body due to COPD, there are other issues that spring up. Since the lack of oxygen blocks the flow to the heart, extremities tend to swell, especially the legs and ankles.

 

8. Extreme Weight Loss

Often times, when you lack oxygen and your lungs are doing whatever they can in order to take in more air, one normal effect is a loss of appetite. Because of this, many patients with COPD end up rapidly losing weight since they no longer feel hungry and lack an appetite at all.

 

9. Respiratory Infections

For those that have undiagnosed COPD, getting a respiratory infection could seriously turn deadly. The body is already weak from the lack of oxygen, as well as not working in the way it should. So when you get respiratory infections, they often head straight from a regular cough into a horrible case. If this is you, ask your doctor to test you for COPD immediately.

 

10. Tightness In The Chest

Normally, tightness in the chest is associated with asthma, or worse yet, heart attacks. But what many people don’t realize is that it is also another sign of COPD. When your lungs are working harder to gain oxygen, your chest constricts, causing tightness and contractions. Of course this could also be a sign of something much more serious so be sure to head to your doctor to get checked out right away.

 

11. Waking Up With A Headache

If you happen to wake up with a headache, there could be a number of reasons why, but one serious cause could be COPD. If your airways are constricted and your brain lacks oxygen as it sleeps, then these morning headaches could be a serious sign that you have the disease.

 

12. Bluish Or Grey Fingernails And Lips

Having bluish or grey colored fingernails and lips could be a much more serious sign of COPD. This means that the lack of oxygen caused by the disease has become so intense that most of your body is adversely affected by it. Be sure to either see your doctor immediately or head to the nearest emergency room. This could mean that your case of COPD has gotten very grave.

 

Finally Getting Diagnosed

Regardless of whether you have one symptom or several, the first step into finding out if you have COPD or not is getting properly tested for it. Most exams involve arterial blood gas analysis, imaging tests, pulmonary function tests, CT scans, as well as chest x-rays. Your doctor will also ask you quite a number of questions about whether you smoke or not, as well as your exposure to smoke, chemicals and other lung irritants. But if your examination comes out positive, then the next step is finding ways to not only manage the disease, but to actually reduce the effects that it’s already caused on your body.

 

COPD Treatments And Management

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Although COPD has no cure, thankfully, there are treatments and ways to manage it so that your quality of life doesn’t have to suffer. Of course, depending on how serious your case is, then your treatment can also vary. Be sure to discuss all the different forms of treatments, as well as ways to manage it according to your specific case with a medical professional.

 

1. Stopping Smoking

If you happen to be a smoker, then your doctor is going to not only tell you to stop, but he or she will make sure that you actually do quit. Be sure to discuss all the various options of how to do it with your doctor like the use of nicotine patches and even joining a support group. But the true first step is to quit cold turkey.

 

2. Medication

Depending on how horrific your COPD case is, then your doctor will prescribe you medication specifically to suit your particular case. Some come in pill form, but others are usually inhalers, like what’s used for asthma. And while some medication will have to be taken on a regular basis, others will be given depending on the need.

 

3. Lung Therapy

There are two different forms of lung therapy, Oxygen Therapy and Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program. The former uses a device to increase the oxygen in your blood, which will then help deliver much needed oxygen all throughout the body. As for the latter, this is an overall plan created to bring more information, training, nutrition counseling and the like, to create a comprehensive program for those suffering from COPD to live by.

 

4. Surgery

The last and most extreme form of treatment happens to be surgery. Of course, this is only considered when a patient’s case of COPD has gone beyond medication and lung therapy. There are usually three types of surgery suggested for COPD, which include Lung Volume Reduction Surgery, Lung Transplants or Bullectomy.

While knowing the signs and symptoms of COPD are incredibly important, as well the various treatments and forms of management, know that these can all be definitive solutions to not only prolong the life of COPD patients, but they can also enhance their quality of life. If you think you or someone you love has it, then don’t delay and see your doctor for a proper diagnosis right away. It could very well save a life!

 

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