Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

The art of breathing does not always need to be taught. All things being right, children carry it out
without any form of training or lectures from birth. They need no assistance as they will require when having to breastfeed. The air that goes in and out in an easy mode carries out very important functions necessary for living. The oxygen that goes into the body is used to produce energy by breaking down glucose. This energy is needed by the body for all forms of activity. In the same vein, carbon dioxide released from the breakdown of glucose as waste is given off and breathed out. These actions are carried out easily only if the lungs are healthy.
Unhealthy lungs can make it difficult for air to be released from the lungs, this condition is known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This is an inflammatory disease in which air is obstructed from flowing freely from the lungs. The World Health Organization estimates that 3 million of the deaths recorded in 2015 were caused by COPD.
COPD can manifest as emphysema (damage to the air sacs in the lungs. It occurs as a result of exposure to cigarette smoke or other irritating gases and particulate matter) or chronic bronchitis (a long term inflammation of the bronchial tubes which carry air to and from the air sacs of the lungs). Symptoms of COPD include difficulty in breathing, production of sputum (mucus), wheezing and chronic cough.
Factors that can damage the lungs include the following:
·         Tobacco smoking and exposure to second hand smoke.
·         Frequent lower respiratory infections in childhood.
·         Fumes and Dust: This include cadmium dust and fumes, grain and flour dust, silica dust, coal dust, welding fumes etc are linked to COPD.
·         Genetics: Some people have genes that make them vulnerable to developing COPD.
Though not curable, treatment can help to relief symptoms and improve the quality of life. Treatment requires that a smoker stops smoking (this will not reverse any damage on the lungs but will prevent further damage), use of medications (as prescribed, to ease breathing), lung therapy (pulmonary rehabilitation & oxygen therapy) and surgery (depending on the extent of damage, a lung transplant, lung volume reduction therapy or bullectomy may be required). To prevent COPD, it is important to avoid all forms of air pollution and smoke.
Having COPD is not the end of the road. The following can help to manage the condition:
     Ø  Exercise: Regular exercise can help to strengthen respiratory muscles.
    Ø  Healthy foods: Eating the right types of foods helps to maintain the right kind of weight. A good weight will help breathing.
    Ø  Clean and safe air: Avoiding polluted environment and secondhand smoke helps to manage COPD. Smoking should be quitted too.
   Ø  Clear airways: Drinking sufficient water, controlled coughing and use of humidifier can clear the airways.
   Ø  Regular visit to the medical practitioner.

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