Ease COPD symptoms
What is COPD?
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the name for a number of lung conditions that affect the breathing. These include emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
It’s a common condition that tends to affect older adults who smoke, although many people are unaware that they have it. Breathing difficulties tend to worsen with time, affecting the daily life of COPD sufferers, but medication can help to manage it.
What are the symptoms of COPD?
Symptoms of COPD include the following:
- Breathlessness, particularly when you're active
- A persistent chesty cough with phlegm (what many people may dismiss a "smoker's cough")
- Regular chest infections
Without treatment, these symptoms will get worse and worse. Sufferers may also experience periods where their symptoms suddenly flare up and become a lot worse.
What causes COPD?
The main cause of COPD is smoking, although non-smokers can also develop this condition. People who have been exposed to harmful dust or fumes are also more likely to develop the condition. The risk increases for smokers the longer you’ve been smoking.
Rarely, COPD can also occur as a result of a genetic problem that makes the lungs more susceptible to damage.
How can you treat COPD?
If you notice any of the COPD symptoms mentioned above you should get checked out by your GP. This is especially important if you are over the age of 35 and a smoker (or you used to smoke). Taking action as soon as possible will stop any serious lung damage occurring, which is especially important since damage from COPD is permanent. Treatments for COPD include:
- Inhalers and other medication such as ipratropium and tiotropium
- Pulmonary rehabilitation (a programme of exercises)
- Surgery or lung transplant (in a very small number of cases)
What can you do to help prevent COPD?
If you are a smoker one of the main things you can do to help prevent COPD is to stop smoking. Your body rapidly begins to repair the damage caused by smoking, so it’s never too late. At the very least, stopping smoking will ensure no further damage is caused.