What is COPD?
COPD is a chronic condition of the airways and is a collective term for: emphysema and chronic bronchitis. COPD is almost exclusively present in elder people and has a strong relationship with smoking.
What are symptoms of COPD?
- Shortness of breath
- Fast paced breathing
Is COPD serious and should I see a doctor?
If you think you might have COPD, it is important to contact a doctor. The doctor can assess your complaints and, if needed, refer you for more testing. With medication and exercise COPD complaints can be somewhat relieved. With COPD, attacks of shortness of breath and coughing can occur, which is why it's important to have a doctor assess the complaints. A doctor can prescribe treatment to prevent COPD attacks or, when that can't be prevented, to cut the attacks short.
Immediately contact a doctor:
- When you suddenly experience severe shortness of breath that doesn't go away
What can I do about COPD myself?
- Quitting smoking is the most important action to take
- Get plenty of exercise and keep up a good physical fitness
- Physical therapy for the respiratory muscles is also important for effectively coughing up mucus
- Eat well, people with COPD are at risk for malnourishment
How does COPD affect my body?
With COPD there is inflammation, constriction and hypersensitivity of the lung tubes, which distribute the air over the lungs. Often this is caused by damage to the lung tubes, for example due to cigarette smoke. As a protective reaction to harmful things like smoke, the lungs start producing more mucus and the lung tubes constrict. This causes coughing and shortness of breath. Sometimes this reaction can be so severe that medication is needed to stop such a COPD attack.
A large part of the COPD-cases is caused by smoking. The most important thing for people is to quit smoking. Aside from that it's very important to remain physically fit, because physical fitness can decline rapidly due to COPD. A good physical condition is also important to be able to cough op mucus from the lungs, to prevent getting pneumonia. It's also very important to keep eating well. COPD costs a lot of energy due to the coughing, the inflammation and the shortness of breath which can result in rapid weight loss, causing a decline in the physical condition. That is why it's important to keep eating well, possibly assisted by a nutritionist.