Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Overview

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Overview


A lung disease. That’s the common phrase used to describe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. What this phrase fails to encompass is the stress and pain associated with this disease. COPD is described as a common, preventable lung disease of chronic nature. But the abnormalities that are a key feature of this disease constrict the airflow in and out of the lungs in such a painful manner that can make anyone’s life miserable. It is the third leading cause of death worldwide[i]

Because the masses believe that COPD is just an inflammation of the lungs, there is a serious need to talk more about this one of the leading causes of death worldwide. This is the key objective of this discussion as well. Stay with us till the very end to find out everything about this disease that you need to know!

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Types of COPD 

The first thing that every novice to the term needs to understand is that COPD is an umbrella term. This means that there are more than one conditions which are classified under this category. Three key conditions are classified under COPD. These are emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and refractory asthma.

What do these conditions mean?

  • Emphysema refers to the formation of giant air sacs because of damage to lung air sacs.
  • Chronic Bronchitis refers to persistent coughing, shortness of breath, and lingering mucus.
  • Refractory Asthma refers to asthma that fails to respond to alleviating medications.

Symptoms of COPD 

What are the clues that can give a lead to COPD? There are plenty of symptoms that can give a clue about COPD. It is worth mentioning here that at first, these symptoms might not appear at all. However, as the condition worsens, a patient suffering from any of the COPD conditions (discussed in the previous section) is likely to feel more than one of the following symptoms:

1- Persistent coughing

2- Lingering mucus

3- Shortness of breath

4- Flu

5- Fatigue and low energy levels all the time

6- Chest constriction accompanied by wheezing

Impact of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

As described in the opening lines of this discussion, COPD can affect the quality of life severely. A person suffering from any of the chronic obstructive pulmonary disorders is likely to be tired and fatigued all the time. The fact that a COPD patient is short of breath all the time restricts a patient’s movements significantly. Whether it is the domestic duties or workplace struggles and hustles, a COPD patient finds completing even the simplest of tasks quite difficult. Then there are the flare-up episodes, during which the symptoms worsen considerably. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that as a person’s breathing becomes laboured, his or her ability to do well in life diminishes automatically.

COPD Diagnosis 

We now talk about the diagnostic testing that can give a clue about COPD. But before a patient is advised to undergo testing for COPD, a check on previous medical history is made, which is usually followed by physical exams and breathing tests. It is only then that a patient is requested to undergo certain medical tests to rule out the possibility of other medical conditions like asthma or ischemic heart disease. Some of these tests include lung function tests, chest X-rays, CT scans of lungs, arterial blood gas tests, and genetic testing to rule out the inherited disease factor.

COPD Causes 

Several contributing factors can lead to COPD. These include smoking, exposure to too much dust, air pollution, asthma, and lung infections in childhood or during infancy, and in rare cases, genetic conditions. A genetic condition dubbed Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency is one of the leading genetic causes for the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder at a young age. The cause of this pulmonary disorder may vary from one patient to another.

COPD Treatment 

Management is more important than treatment when it comes to COPD conditions at their initial stages. Making necessary changes to the lifestyle, for example, quitting smoking can help in averting the worst easily. Obesity is another risk factor that one needs to be wary of all the time. However, in cases where things exacerbate, treatment options have to be considered, which can cost a COPD patient a fortune. In low-income countries like Pakistan where COPD accounts for 5% of the total deaths, treating COPD is nothing short of a challenge. If it was not for organizations like Transparent Hands that are funding the treatment of many underprivileged Pakistani patients, things could have taken a lot uglier turn!

Transparent Hands 

Let us familiarize you a bit with this organization’s doings in the concluding remarks of this discussion. When it comes to crowdfunding for health, there is no platform bigger than Transparent Hands in Pakistan. The range of healthcare services offered by Transparent Hands is astoundingly vast. From medical and surgical treatments to medical camps and telehealth facilities, the nonprofit organization makes sure that the underprivileged Pakistanis have access to quality healthcare services. The nonprofit beliefs in creating a patient-donor bond while making sure that the protocols of transparency aren’t breached at any point. The nonprofit realizes the need for free medical camps in the rural areas, hence it actively sets up such camps as well. To donate, donors can log in to the Transparent Hands crowdfunding web portal from anywhere in the world. Payment modes are one hundred percent secure. Every donor has absolute freedom in selecting and funding patients of their choice. The nonprofit organization makes sure that regular updates until complete recovery are sent to the concerned donor.

Final Thoughts on COPD

That would be all from this discussion. We wish we could have talked a bit more about this chronic lung condition that impairs the quality severely. The topic is quite a diverse one! Unfortunately, we have run out of the space and time we had for this discussion. Nevertheless, we are quite optimistic that your knowledge of the subject has increased considerably. On that optimistic note, we bid you farewell from this space!

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