The lungs are responsible for obtaining oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide through breathing movements such as inhaling and exhaling air. When a problem occurs in the lungs, which play an essential role in maintaining these vital phenomena, it leads to the occurrence of various related diseases such as pneumonia, asthma, bronchiectasis, and pulmonary tuberculosis. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is one of these lung-related diseases. Inhalation of various harmful factors, gases, and pollutants causes an abnormal inflammatory reaction in the lungs. This refers to a slowly deteriorating respiratory disease.
Smoking is one of the major causes of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It is known that continuous smoking destroys normal lung tissue, decreases lung capacity, and causes inflammation in the lungs, which directly affects the development of the lungs. In general, 80-90% of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is reported to be related to smoking. However, not all people who smoke will develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and it will depend on the difference in the degree of smoking history and the difference in genetic susceptibility to smoking. In addition, exposure to occupational dust, harmful gases, chemical substances, indoor and outdoor pollution conditions, and respiratory diseases such as chronic bronchitis can also be the cause. Now, let’s learn about the main symptoms, treatment, and prevention of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease one by one.
Main symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
There may be no symptoms in the early stages of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. As it progresses gradually, cough and sputum are discharged in an intermittent form, and over time, it can lead to a chronic form. And if the symptoms get worse, breathing difficulties appear. This shortness of breath, like coughing and sputum, also develops slowly, and the symptoms become more severe with activity or exercise. And when it becomes chronic, breathing difficulties may occur even when resting. In addition, wheezing, fever, and blue lips and fingertips may also be accompanied.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease often goes unnoticed because there are no symptoms even when the lung function is only half of the normal value. In addition, since the symptoms are similar to colds, rhinitis, bronchitis, and asthma, the treatment period is often delayed and neglected. If the treatment period is delayed in this way, if the main symptoms worsen due to continuous damage to the lung function, great difficulty in daily life may occur. And as the respiratory distress worsens, exercise ability is reduced, muscle strength is weakened and weight is reduced, and at the same time, gas exchange in the lungs is reduced, which can cause diseases such as hypoxia.
In addition, difficulties in daily life can cause emotional problems such as social isolation and depression, and they can also cause problems with normal heart function, which can lead to life-threatening consequences such as respiratory failure and cardiovascular complications. Therefore, it is important to visit a hospital early to receive an accurate diagnosis and treatment when symptoms suggestive of symptoms appear. In addition, reducing risk factors such as smoking, which causes worsening of symptoms, as much as possible, and maintaining lifestyle to improve symptoms are as important as treatment.
Treatment and prevention of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
1. Accurate diagnosis and treatment
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is diagnosed by performing a pulmonary function test to measure lung capacity as well as a medical examination by a specialist. To differentiate it from other diseases, chest X-ray examination and CT are performed. In addition, depending on the diagnosis result, various treatment methods such as drug treatment such as various types of bronchodilators and inhalants, respiratory rehabilitation treatment, and oxygen therapy are applied to proceed. And if symptoms do not improve despite these treatments, systemic corticosteroids are used for treatment.
2. No smoking
It is known that quitting smoking is the most effective way to prevent and suppress the progression of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It is said that about 4,000 harmful substances contained in tobacco enter the body and accumulate in the alveoli, causing the alveoli to expand and damage, greatly affecting the occurrence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In addition, when chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients continue to smoke, acute exacerbations frequently occur, increasing the risk of complications. Quitting smoking cannot restore the already damaged lung function to normal, but it is recommended to quit smoking because it prevents the lung function from worsening. It is also recommended to avoid secondhand smoke as much as possible, as it can have as harmful consequences as direct smoking.
3. Keep the indoor environment clean
It is also said that it is important to keep the environment clean through dust removal and cleaning, as the pollution state of the living space or work environment where you spend a lot of time is also a factor that greatly affects the occurrence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In addition, proper maintenance of indoor humidity and sufficient water intake dilute phlegm and make it easier to discharge. In addition, if the fine dust is severe, it is recommended to reduce going out as much as possible, and it is important to pay more attention to personal hygiene management by making it a habit to wash your hands after returning from going out.
4. Steady exercise
In order to prevent chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and relieve symptoms, it is also important to maintain regular exercise. It is said that if you do aerobic exercise such as walking or biking three times a week for 30 minutes or more, it will help alleviate symptoms such as breathing difficulties due to the effect of enhancing lung capacity. However, prolonged exercise or intense exercise can cause symptoms to worsen, so it is recommended to adjust the exercise speed appropriately and continue at an intensity suitable for one’s physical condition.
In addition, it is important to eat a balanced diet of various vegetables and fruits that help to strengthen lung function, to regulate the body condition on its own so that it does not become easily fatigued, and to maintain a management habit to prevent excessive stress. In addition, vaccination against vaccines such as pneumococcal vaccine or influenza vaccine is also important in preventing related complications.