Whether you have only heard the name through TV commercials or know someone suffering from it, the name COPD can sound a bit cryptic. Coughing is one of the visible symptoms, but what does COPD stand for? What is it? And, most importantly, how do you know if your family is at risk to contract it?
In honor of COPD Awareness Month, New Braunfels ER wants to talk about this chronic lung condition and how it impacts the lives of its patients. We will discuss the causes, the risks, and how our freestanding facility can help if you or someone you love is in need.
What does COPD stand for?
The term COPD stands for “Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease,” which is the medical term for a condition in which someone’s lungs are in a frequent state of obstruction and bad health. This term is actually used to refer to several different lung diseases which can cause pain and impact the health of someone’s lungs.
What causes COPD?
COPD can be caused by a wide variety of conditions. In essence, anything that can block airflow and inhibit someone’s breathing for an extended period of time, can cause COPD. Diseases like bronchitis and emphysema are some of the most common infection-related causes of COPD, but there are also genetic and environmental factors which can cause or worsen COPD.
Since COPD is a chronic, on-going condition, early detection of it is vital to treatment. COPD cannot always be cured, but when doctors can intervene early, they can help patients manage the symptoms and even eliminate their COPD entirely.
What are the signs of COPD?
Early detection is one of the most important factors in treating COPD, which means families need to know what to look for. When you are familiar with the symptoms, you can see a doctor and get treatment early.
For most cases, the symptoms of COPD are:
- Chronic coughing and wheezing
- Phlegm, mucus, and sputum build up
- Shortness of breath
- Trouble breathing
These symptoms are also common in many illnesses like the flu, colds, and minor infections. What makes COPD notable is that these symptoms occur for long periods of time, sometimes as a result of a previous infection, or even manifesting without any previous illnesses.
How do you treat COPD?
Treatment can come in many forms for COPD. Since this condition can be caused by a variety of infections and genetic factors, each patient needs to talk with their doctor to find the right treatment plan for them. With this in mind, there are a few daily practices that can help any COPD patient to manage their symptoms and encourage good lung health:
- No Smoking: If you or a loved one smoke cigarettes, cigars, or even use vape pens, then it is time to quit. COPD makes your lungs very sensitive and vulnerable to any of these fumes, and tobacco is only going to deter your treatment and make your condition worse.
- Avoid Air Pollutants: Besides just tobacco smoke and fumes, it is important for patients with COPD to avoid pollutants and irritants in the air. This can include aerosol sprays, certain kinds of cleaning products, and other harsh air conditions. You should talk with your doctor about what to avoid if you or someone you love is suffering from COPD.
- Consider Pulmonary Rehabilitation: While not every COPD patient will need rehab treatment, if you are discussing COPD treatment with your doctor, then ask about pulmonary rehabilitation. This addition to a medication treatment plans can go a long way to strengthening someone’s lungs.
- Supplemental Oxygen: This is another treatment aid which not every patient needs, but if you or someone you know is diagnosed with COPD, talking with your doctor about when and if supplemental oxygen might be needed.
When treating COPD, medication is often prescribed, and specific treatment plans are usually set in place by a patient’s doctor. It is important for everyone with COPD to stick to their doctor’s plan, or else results and recovery might come slowly or not at all.
What are the risk factors of COPD?
Now that we have discussed the various symptoms, causes, and treatments of COPD, some families might be wondering if they are at risk. Perhaps you have not been diagnosed with COPD, but you’ve always had sensitive lungs or have a family history of lung conditions. Paying attention to some of these health factors is a good idea when you are considering whether you have COPD. Here are some of the most common risk factors that doctors look for in COPD patients:
- People aged 65 years or older
- Current or former smokers
- People with a history of asthma
- Family history of COPD or other chronic lung conditions
If you or someone you love has any of these risk factors, then it might be time to talk with a doctor about the risk of COPD. Like many serious health conditions, early detection and prevention can be key for an effective treatment.
New Braunfels ER knows that COPD can be a serious condition that impacts a patient’s day-to-day capabilities. It goes beyond just coughing, and in the case of any medical emergencies, our facility is open 24/7 for patients of all ages and conditions. Our team of top-notch doctors and nurses are ready to provide concierge-level care to all COPD patients.
Nutex Health, Inc supports you and your family’s health. You can depend on New Braunfels Emergency Room or any one of our concierge-level, freestanding emergency facilities to deliver the emergency care you deserve, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.