Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Symptoms And Relief

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Symptoms can make it very difficult to breath. COPD is one of the most common lung disorders and is primarily caused by smoking. This article takes a close look at the symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and steps a person can take to control those symptoms.

COPD Symptoms And Causes

Symptoms tend to develop slowly and may include:
  • Difficult breathing (dyspnea) that worsens with activity
  • Coughing with mucus
  • Frequent lung infections
  • Fatigue
  • Wheezing
  • Cyanosis (slight bluish or grayish discoloration of the skin that may be most notable in the fingers) may be detected in some individuals
Most people with COPD have a combination of two disorders, chronic bronchitis and pulmonary emphysema. Other long-standing lung conditions such as chronic asthma, and chronic bronchiolitis may also be present.

Smoking is a major cause of COPD. The more often a person smokes, the more likely it is that the person will develop symptoms of this lung disorder. Other risk factors include exposure to certain gases or fumes, exposure to copious amounts of second-hand smoke and pollution, or over-exposure to cooking gas without proper ventilation.

COPD Diagnosis And Treatment

Observation of the aforementioned symptoms can be an important part of an early diagnosis. If symptoms are notices an evaluation should be performed by a medical physician. The evaluation may include a physical examination and lung function tests such as spirometry (a simple test that measures lung capacity). In some cases it will be necessary to perform blood tests (i.e. blood gas tests) to measure the amounts of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood. Visualizing the lungs using X-rays and CT scans can be useful but may not reveal signs of COPD.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is considered to be a chronic and progressive disease and there is currently no cure available. Therapy and treatment is focused on relieving the symptoms and slowing progression.

A physician may prescribe a bronchodilator (inhaler) or other medication to open airways and improve breathing. Commonly used medications include ipratropium (Atrovent), tiotropium (Spiriva), salmeterol (Serevent), or formoterol (Foradil). Inhaled steroids may be prescribed to reduce inflammation of the lungs. At home oxygen therapy may be necessary for some individuals.

It is important for the person to stop smoking and avoid air pollution. A person with COPD should avoid other persons who have acute contagious respiratory infections (i.e. Colds, Bronchitis, etc.). Avoiding very cold air may help avoid flare-ups.

Take an active role in your health by learning all you can about Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
You can read more about this condition and use a free tool that walks you through your symptoms and leads you to an online diagnosis. Prepare yourself before your doctor's visit and figure out what your symptoms mean using this Medical Symptom Diagnosis Tool.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Dr._Becky_Gillaspy

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