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Lung Disease - COPD

What is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)?

COPD is a long-term blockage of the airflow in the lungs. This obstruction is usually non-reversible and progressive. COPD patients generally suffer from emphysema or bronchitis, and often have both. Emphysema causes permanent enlargement of the lung's air sacs, or alveoli, which then can't transfer oxygen into the bloodstream as efficiently. Chronic bronchitis is a condition in which the breathing tubes become inflamed and produce mucus, obstructing airflow.

What Causes COPD?

Smoking causes about 90% of COPD cases. Other causes include occupational pollutants, such as coal dust or silica, indoor air pollution from cooking stoves and poor ventilation, inherited lung disorders, and second-hand smoke.

Symptoms of COPD

  • Frequent respiratory infections
  • Chronic cough
  • Dyspnea (shortness of breath)
  • Cyanosis (bluish nail beds and lips - occurs in advanced cases)

How is COPD Diagnosed?

Several tests can help the doctor determine if your loved one has COPD, including a chest x-ray, CT or CAT scan of the chest, pulmonary function tests, and measuring the oxygen and carbon dioxide blood levels.

Treatment for COPD

  • Medications that help dilate airways and decrease inflammation
  • Flu and pneumonia vaccines
  • Oxygen therapy
  • Pulmonary rehab
  • Surgery

Help Your Loved one Kick the Habit

Smoking is an extremely addictive habit that's tough to break. Your loved one will need a ton of support and encouragement from you and other family members. Talk with the doctor about medications that can help with the transition, such as the nicotine patch or Bupropion, (Wellbutrin or Zyban) an antidepressant that can help some people through withdrawal. Eating healthfully, drinking plenty of water and juices, taking vitamins, sucking on sugarless candies, keeping busy with enjoyable activities, and professional counseling are all good for the cause. When it comes to helping your loved one to stop smoking, pull out all the stops.