When it’s November you know it is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) awareness month! A season to find out what COPD is, the way to prevent/manage it, the support available for COPD patients and just how we will greatly improve their lives. Exciting, right? Let’s get to that.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, also referred to as COPD, may be a collective term for 2 diseases namely bronchitis and emphysema. Sometimes, it also includes asthma. Let me take you through it.
Bronchitis is inflammation of the bronchi, the passage which brings air into the lungs causing a long term cough for 3 months during each of two consecutive years.
Emphysema is a chronic (persistent and recurring) condition caused by damage to the lungs’ air sacs (alveoli).
Asthma is a condition in which an individual’s airways become inflamed, swollen and produce excessive mucus, causing difficulty in breathing.
What causes COPD?
Cigarette smoking is by far the leading cause. In fact up to 85-90% of COPD cases are brought about by smoking. However you also are in danger of getting this condition if you’re constantly exposed to air pollution, work in an environment with dust, fumes and chemicals, and have a genetic condition called Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency or a history of childhood respiratory infection.
How can I tell if I’ve got COPD?
You may experience some or all of the following symptoms; A cough that’s worse in the mornings with production of colourless sputum (thick mucus/phlegm that’s coughed up from the lungs), breathlessness which can feel as though ‘you don’t know if your next breath is coming at all’ and wheezing (a high-pitched whistling sound) when you breathe.
Did you know you could have COPD and not know it? While this is possible, you need not worry because there is a simple test which can detect COPD before symptoms present. it is called a spirometry test. In COPD it demonstrates air leaving the lung much slower than normal during forced expiration. Other tests available include arterial blood Gas (ABG) test and Chest radiography through X-rays and CT scan.
Can COPD be treated?
Could you guess what the most important intervention is, in the prevention and treatment of COPD? Correct! You got that right. Smoking cessation. It slows down damage to the airways and offers the lungs a breath of fresh air (pun totally intended). Medications are available including bronchodilators and corticosteroids.
How about follow-up and support?
A plan for pulmonary rehabilitation is crucial and the activities include education to the patient and the family concerning this condition, smoking cessation, physiotherapy including exercise as well as psychosocial support. At Ponea we bring you all of these services through our tailor-made packages to afford you the convenience you desire.
Despite the continuing global pandemic that is COVID-19, COPD remains a leading cause of death worldwide. This month therefore, and going forward let us vow to look after our lung health; to quit and avoid smoking, to actively exercise and to do our part in ensuring a clean environment free of pollution. Together, we are stronger. Let’s fight COPD!
Check out our screening packages and more on www.ponea.com or contact us directly on +254 111 013 900.