COPD – It’s not just smokers who are at risk

The WHO estimates that by 2030, COPD will be the third most common cause of death, currently There are nearly 250 million diagnosed patients in the world.

In Hungary, the number of patients with COPD may exceed half a million, but only about one-third of patients receive treatment due to inadequate detection and diagnosis. However, due to the large number of affected people, COPD can still be considered a public disease.

What is COPD?

COPD is a disease of the lungs that is associated with irreversible damage and gradually worsening symptoms. The airways become narrowed and the lung tissue is damaged – essentially a rapid aging of the lungs. The progression of the disease can only be slowed down, the symptoms can be alleviated, however, it is currently not possible to completely reverse COPD.

Causes of COPD

Smoking is the main cause of its development, but air pollution or exposure to chemicals also increase the chances of developing the disease. However, 1 out of 4 COPD patients tend to be non-smokers (and not exposed to particular air pollution).

According to a new study, one of the causes of COPD is having a small airway relative to the person’s lung volume. This phenomenon is called dysanapsis. Air enters the lungs through airways similar to the branches of a tree, however, these small twigs are shorter than average in some people relative to the volume of the lungs. Dysanapsis develops in childhood when airway twigs grow more slowly than lung volume. Research has shown that people with smaller airways have poorer lung function, making them up to eight times more likely to develop COPD.

In the classical paradigm, the lung capacity of individuals with normal lung function decreases rapidly, if they are exposed to irritating effects for years – such as the cigarette smoke or air pollution already mentioned. However, in people who have decreased lung function from an early age, this low starting point may increase the risk of COPD in later years, even if there is no rapid decline in lung function. According to new research, dysanapsis may account for a large percentage of these cases.

Symptoms of COPD

The most common symptoms of the disease include shortness of breath, which is associated with persistent cough and increased mucus production. Due to the deterioration of respiratory function, the patient becomes tired, so as the disease progresses, daily activities can also be a problem, because the patient feels suffocated even at lower loads.

COPD can be diagnosed by respiratory function testing. The respiratory function tester measures the volume and flow rate of air inhaled and exhaled by the patient, from which the treating physician infers the condition of the lungs.

What can we do if the disease has already been diagnosed?

Now, during the COVID epidemic, respiratory function tests are performed by pulmonologists only when justified, and information can be requested at the time of application. The disease can be diagnosed by doctors from the symptoms and the history, which can be confirmed by a subsequent respiratory function test. Once the disease has been diagnosed, your doctor will prescribe therapy tailored to you. Today, there are a number of inhalation devices available to patients with COPD that contribute greatly to making patients’ lives easier, are easier to learn to treat, and are also environmentally friendly.

Personalized therapy also includes regular exercise and a proper diet. It’s worth taking an active move every day, depending on the patient’s condition, which can be either a short walk in a nearby park or a light, moving series of a few minutes of exercise, many of which can be found online today. If the patient is overweight, it is important to get rid of the extra pounds as soon as possible so as not to strain your heart. However, if you are lean, you need to get stronger. But let’s not forget: regular specialist checkups for the disease, a smoke-free and more active lifestyle can all help prevent the disease from getting worse!

What happens in the lungs for COPD?

Source: Napidoktor by

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