Dr Hilary Jones discusses why COPD affects so many people.
COPD – What is it?
COPDChronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) refers to a collection of lung disorders which include Chronic Bronchitis, Emphysema and Chronic Obstructive Airways Disease.
How common is it?
COPD is one of the most common lung disorders in the UK. Usually it affects people over the age of 35 and most people are diagnosed after the age of 50. It is estimated that there are over 3 million people living with COPD in this country but only about 900,000 have actually been diagnosed. That’s because many people with COPD just dismiss their symptoms as a smokers cough.
What causes it?
Smoking and COPDThe main culprit is smoking. You are very much more likely to develop COPD if you smoke and the more you smoke and the longer you have been smoking the greater the risk. Tobacco smoke inflames and irritates the air passageways and the lungs themselves resulting in scarring. In time this scarring becomes permanent the walls of the airways become thicker and more phlegm is generated. Emphysema is caused by damage to the delicate air sacs within the lungs themselves and the whole of the lung loses its normal elasticity so it becomes harder to breathe. The small airways also become scarred and narrowed. Occupations which expose people to dust, air pollution and fumes can also contribute.
The classic symptoms include breathlessness, particularly on exertion, a persistent cough and phlegm.
Early diagnosis is important because the sooner treatment is started the quicker any progression of the disease can be slowed down. A combination of the symptoms and breathing tests will usually confirm the diagnosis.
Stopping smoking is essential in helping to slow progression of the disorder. Medication can relieve the symptoms to some extent for example using an inhaler to open up the airways and reduce inflammation within them. Surgery is rarely required but is useful for people with bronchiectasis where scarring of the airways is extensive.
Living with COPD
COPD can affect your life in various ways but its impact can be managed. Keeping as active as you can, learning breathing techniques and always taking your medication can certainly help. Changes to the home and the provision of oxygen in the later stages of the disease can also be important. TeleCare24 Careline Alarms For some people there independence may be effected long term for people with COPD and for them Telecare24 Careline Services can prove invaluable as they enable people to stay living independently and safely in their own home whilst remaining in touch around the clock with loved ones and if necessary emergency services. Their highly trained, polite and helpful operators work 365 days a year 24 hours a day and provide the fastest response times compared to other providers. Telecare24 Careline Services come highly recommended.