Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: Prevention is the Key

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease called COPD is a common growing disease. COPD usually affects people in their late 50’s and up, with some instances in the younger years. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is named from – Chronic ( over a period of time) Obstructive (air flow is blocked) Pulmonary (lung) Disease ( self explanatory). With that being said, in this disease air flow that is blocked has happened over time and is usually irreversible. The diseases that cause COPD are emphysema and chronic bronchitis. With emphysema the air flow obstruction occurs when the part of the lung called the alveoli is over distended.

The alveoli are sacs in the lungs where the oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange. When someone has emphysema, they are unable to do an adequate exchange of the gases and end up retaining carbon dioxide. During this process the lung tissue begins to die. Resulting in much of the lung fields not being used. Frequent infections causing mucus production and inflamation is common. Sometimes the lung tissues lose the elasticity that allows them to expand and recoil while breathing. The secretions produced are usually thick and hard for the person to expel because they do not have enough air in the lung to produce a forceful cough.

Due to the disease processes the lungs remain filled with air. If you know someone with this disease, you may notice that their chest seems to be rounded. This is referred to as barreled chest. People with over inflated lungs tend to do what is called pursed lip breathing. This looks like they are going to whistle. What they are actually trying to do is to force some of the air out of the lungs. Along history of smoking is usually the main contributor. A slight few may have genetic traits. Shortness of breath with daily activity is usually one of the main symptoms. There is no cure for emphysema so the medical treatment is to improve the quality of life. People suffering from COPD can be expected to be on oxygen all the time. Certain types of breathing treatments may be used also to help with the inflamation. With chronic bronchitis the person will have a productive cough that lasts at least three months for two years in a row.

Smoking as well as second hand smoke, are contributors to this type of disease. Over time the tubes leading into the lungs become thick. The cough usually begins in the winter months. People who have frequent lung infections need to be monitored by their doctor for proper care. Medications are used to help get out the secretions and keep the tubes open and steroids are used to help keep down the inflamation. Prevention is the number one way fight Chronic Obstructive Disease. The main way to help prevent this disease is to stop smoking. Stop going to places where you are exposed to second hand smoke. This is a horrible disease that can be prevented. I am a registered nurse and I see many people suffering from COPD on a daily basis. Can you imagine how it would feel not to be able to feel satisfied with the breath you just took in? Can you imagine literally drowning in your own body secretions? Prevention is the key. Knowledge is power, spread the word and put out those butts. Breath in clean air your lungs and your kids’ lungs will thank you later.

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