COPD – Relevant Information
COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a medical term used for the both chronic bronchitis and emphysema. These are co-existing medical conditions caused by the damage of the lung airways, leading to breathing problems and chest congestion.
The possible causes of COPD are: chronic smoking, chronic lung infections, and air pollution or in rare cases genetic disorders (deficiency of alpha-1 antitrypsin). These patients don’t have the same problems as people suffering from asthma, since the condition is irreversible and progresses with time. Airways are permanently damaged and the body increasingly gets less oxygen.
The diagnosis of COPD is established by lung function test.
Patients diagnosed with COPD are strongly advised to quit smoking. The treatment includes courses of antibiotics to heal the lung infection and inhalers to open the damaged airways. Patients might also receive anti-inflammation medications and perform breathing exercises. Some of the people affected with COPD need oxygen therapy, and in rare cases patients, require surgery and lung transplantation.
COPD is one of 10 leading causes of death in the world and 4th cause of death in the United States today. Estimation says that by the 2030 1 of every 4 deaths would be caused by smoking.
The prognosis of your condition will help you understand your COPD case, risk of possible complications and life expectancy. If caught in the early stages, the prognosis is certainly better, but the life expectancy is different for every patient.
The treatment for COPD will reduce the risk of complications, prolong your life and improve your life quality, but it can’t cure the problem. Eventually, patients die when the lungs stop, because their body doesn’t get the needed oxygen. Other causes of death might be serious complications.
The doctor will check the capacity of your lungs with spirometry test and determine FEV1 (forced expiratory volume in 1 second) and the stage of COPD. There are 3 stages of the disease, depending on the FEV1, including: mild, moderate and severe COPD.
Mild COPD patients have FEV1 above 80%. They experience chronic cough and the airflow is mildly limited. These people are advised to quit smoking, because it can significantly and quickly worsen the current condition. Mild COPD is treatable, but the improvement and life expectancy depend on a number of factors, including the lifestyle changes (such as smoking), age, gender, weight, height and also the treatment.
Patients having the FEV1 values between 30 and 50% are diagnosed with moderate COPD, and those whose FEV1 value goes below 30% are advanced COPD patients.
Advanced COPD patients have a bad prognosis and only about 25% of people survive for 5 years with his condition. Survival mainly depends on the function of the lungs and its worsening over time. Specialists agree that the patient who lost 2/3 of the lung function has low chances to live more than 10 years.