Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a respiratory disorder that produces an obstruction to breathing. COPD broadly includes, emphysema (a long term and progressive disease of the lungs that causes shortness of breath due to the damaged lungs) and chronic bronchitis (a condition in which the bronchial tubes are inflamed, and may lead to an increased production of mucus while coughing).
- Cigarette smoking or second-hand smoke
- Family history of lung disorders
- Chronic exposure to dust, ozone, chemicals and traffic exhaust fumes
- Frequent lung infections in childhood
- Personal history of allergies or lung problems
- In case of chronic bronchitis, you may experience frequent cough or coughing spasm. Cough is most commonly accompanied with mucus and becomes difficult to cough up.
- Wheezing (a whistling sound that is audible while breathing out)
- The color of the mucus may vary depending on the type of the infection.
- Shortness of breath is a common symptom
- Tightness in the chest
- Blueness of the lips and fingernails
- General fatigue
- Lack of energy
- Gradual and unintended weight loss
- In case of usual viral infection, the cough should get better in a week’s time span. However, in case there is no improvement even after taking over the counter products, it is important to rule out the cause for the same.
- Make sure you see a doctor for an accurate diagnosis in case the cough is persistent.
- Your doctor shall ask you about your symptoms and medical history. He may also suggest a detailed medical examination for a better diagnosis.
- The doctor may suggest you some common tests such as spirometry, lung function tests, chest x-rays and tests to evaluate the level of oxygen in the blood.
- He shall also ask you for the relevant symptoms that could help him understand the presence or absence of the disease.
- Once the problem is diagnosed, the doctor will suggest lifestyle changes and prescribe you with medications such as bronchodilators, corticosteroids and antibiotics.
- In case you are smoker, make sure you resort to quit smoking.
- In severe cases, you may also be suggested to go for oxygen therapy to manage shortness of breath and enhance the quality of life.
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