La enfermedad pulmonar obstructiva crónica / EPOC se refiere a un conjunto de enfermedades pulmonares que dificultan la salida de aire de los pulmones. Esto puede provocar fatiga o dificultad para respirar.
Las condiciones que se presentan bajo EPOC incluyen bronquitis crónica y enfisema .
La EPOC es un grupo de enfermedades donde la tos y la producción de esputo aumentan y los signos de si esto se debe a fumar se miden a través de una prueba conocida como espirometría que detecta si las vías respiratorias están bloqueadas o no.
Según el informe de los síntomas y los resultados de las pruebas, un médico puede diagnosticar que tiene EPOC. Recuerde compartir el historial médico, las prácticas para fumar (si corresponde), la exposición a productos químicos y contaminantes y el período transcurrido desde que surgieron los síntomas.
Causas de la EPOC
La EPOC puede ser causada por muchas razones. El más conocido y común es fumar. Incluso el humo de segunda mano causa COPD, por lo que los no fumadores no son inmunes. Las partículas irritantes si se inhalan pueden provocar que los bronquios (tubos bronquiales) generen más moco de lo normal.
También hace que los tubos se hinchen y el aumento de moco aumenta la frecuencia de la tos. La EPOC puede desarrollarse independientemente de si se inhalan cantidades cortas de humo durante un período o viceversa.
Los factores genéticos y ambientales también pueden causar EPOC. La exposición al polvo, productos químicos o contaminantes también puede exacerbar las posibilidades de desarrollar EPOC.
Condiciones comunes de EPOC
Esta es una hinchazón e irritabilidad constante de los tubos de respiración que da como resultado un aumento de la flema. Los tubos se llaman bronquios / bronquiolos. La bronquitis crónica se diagnostica cuando se ha reportado tos y moco por más de 3 meses en 2 años, y ninguna otra afección pulmonar como el asma es la causa.
This COPD condition has airways obstruction as swelling and more mucus cause the breathing tubes to become blocked and choked. Narrowing of airways also prevents air from reaching the lungs.
This is a disease that concerns the air sacs or alveoli of the lung. With over 300 million such air sacs, emphysema is a condition which is tough to cope with as the walls of the alveoli become damaged.
This causes the air sac to become more like a bag, easy to blow up but tough to exhale or breathe out. Getting air into the lungs is as tough as getting it out in this condition.
In this COPD condition, breathing tubes collapse because air sac walls are damaged. The alveoli walls generally hold the breathing tubes open as one exhales.
Chronic in COPD means that you will have this condition for life. COPD also worsens over time. While you cannot undo the damage, you can manage it and prevent the worsening of symptoms.
Symptoms of COPD
The chief symptoms of COPD are:
- Chronic cough
- Excess Mucus or Phlegm discharge
- Breathlessness/ Shortness of breath which worsens with activity
As COPD worsens, even simple things like eating and exercise become tough as people begin to lose weight and become weaker.
Symptoms can flare up and worsen in what is called COPD exacerbation. The longer you have the condition, the more likely it is that the flare ups will come.
COPD also causes breathlessness, shortness of breath, overproduction of mucus or sputum and fatigue or tiredness. When the symptoms first appear, people often do not realise they have COPD thinking they are just out of shape or it’s a smoker’s cough.
A cough is a reaction of the airways to remove mucus or protect airways from inhaled chemicals and pollutants. People with certain other conditions may also have a cough such as common cold or even hernia. Coughing that causes people to pass out or be ceaseless should be reported to the doctor.
This is shortness of breath or breathlessness and it is a sure shot symptom of COPD. Bear in mind that activity induced breathlessness may be normal in COPD and so exercising should be carried out as this does not further damage the lungs.
But leading an active life with COPD is not easy. Pulmonary rehab programs which train people how to cope with shortness of breath can prove helpful.
Sputum or phlegm production from the lungs is different from sinus drainage. Airways produce several ounces of sputum per day and when lungs are bothered by irritants, this increases.
Chronic irritation also damaged the natural cleaning system provided by cilia or hairlike structures in the airways. To treat excessive sputum production, generally antibiotics, expectorants, and mucolytics are used. But COPD patients rely on drinking non-dehydrating liquids like water and juice.
Medications are only used when natural methods do not work.
Treatment of COPD
While there is no known cure for COPD, the treatment, and management of symptoms can make you more active and slow down the chances of symptoms advancing or worsening.
Goals of COPD treatment
This includes lowering symptoms, slowing the disease, increasing the ability to stay active, improving overall health and preventing medical complications.
Leave smoking…it can save your life. Besides quitting smoking, patients should also avoid second-hand smoke and toxic substances that are inhaled such as dust and chemical particles. Use support groups to quit smoking.
Quitting smoking is the most important step you can take to treat COPD. Talk with your doctor about programs and products that can help you quit. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute offers informative details on how to quit smoking.
Change your eating plan as symptoms like shortness or breath and fatigue make it tough to have heavy meals. Check with your practitioner about having small, more frequent meals and vitamin or nutritional supplements. Resting before eating and picking a physical activity or exercises to strengthen your lungs and muscles can also make you feel better.
- Combined Bronchodilators Plus Glucocorticosteroids
While bronchodilators relax muscles and ease breathing through airways through a device called the inhaler, a inhaled steroid may also be prescribed for those with severe COPD who experience flare-ups.
Various vaccines such as flu shots, pneumococcal vaccine lower the risk for COPD conditions to aggravate into life-threatening states.
This includes pulmonary rehabilitation and oxygen therapy. The former includes exercise, disease management training and nutritional as well as mental health support and the rehab team can comprise multiple types of healthcare practitioners. Nasal prongs or mask can also be used to provide more oxygen to the COPD patient.
Surgery might help those with severe symptoms and includes:
- Lung volume reduction surgery
- Lung transplant
Severe COPD can be life-threatening. Patients should seek medical advice and counselling to avoid worsening of symptoms. Wellness lies in an effective management of symptoms through a combination of nutrition, exercise, and medical treatment.