Common lung illnesses such as bronchitis and emphysema fall under the umbrella of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the NHS reported.
COPD is a chronic condition characterized by issues with breathing. Some of the most common symptoms associated with COPD include: severe bouts of coughing, frequent congestion and phlegm, wheezing and breathlessness.
What causes COPD?
According to Bupa, COPD is a fairly common health problem, with well over 1 million people living with the disease across the country. The condition is typically caused by heavy smoking, which damages the lungs and leads to inflammation. Emphysema and bronchitis, for example, are both a consequence of damage and inflammation within the lungs. The former condition is the result of air sacs that become impaired while the latter forms when the tubes that are found within the lungs and connect to the air sacs, the bronchi, become inflamed.
"Many patients living with COPD are over the age of 65."
In addition to smoking, Bupa noted that another risk factor for COPD is advanced age - many patients living with COPD are over the age of 65. As the British Lung Foundation makes clear, however, it is possible to develop COPD at a younger age, especially in patient populations who smoke.
How can COPD be prevented?
Thankfully, there are a couple of simple ways to reduce your risk of developing of COPD. They include:
1. Quitting smoking
Perhaps the most significant way to lower your risk of COPD is to refrain from smoking cigarettes, or give up the habit if you are a current smoker, the NHS advised. There are a number of resources that smokers can use to stop smoking for good, including smoking cessation aids available at pharmacies, medicines available from your GP and resources offered by NHS Smokefree. To learn more about the brilliant services on offer from NHS Smokefree, click on their website.
2. Staying active and healthy
Staying healthy by eating a balanced and nutritious diet and exercising regularly can help keep your overall health in the best possible shape, which in turn can lower your risk for a whole host of chronic conditions - not just COPD.
3. Knowing your risk
In rare cases COPD is caused by hereditary factors, Patient.info, a trusted online medical resource explained. Consequently, as noted by Bupa, if anyone in your family has experienced a lung illness that falls under the banner of COPD, your own risk could be higher. If you are concerned about this, make an appointment with your GP to discuss ways of staying healthy and lowering your risk. As stressed, the most effective strategy in any case in smoking cessation.
How is COPD treated and managed?
If you are diagnosed with COPD, it is important to understand that it cannot be cured, but that there are a number of effective ways to manage the condition the NHS explained. Your treatment plan will be tailored to meet your own specific needs. The British Lung Foundation reported that some of the most common treatment strategies include:
- The use of oxygen
- Smoking cessation.
If you have a particularly severe case of COPD, a lung transplant or lung volume reduction surgery may be recommended.
Alongside these treatments, there are a number of ways that you can manage your symptoms and live an active and fulfilling life. They include, according to the British Lung Foundation:
1. Get your jabs
It's important to get your flu jab in the autumn, before flu season ramps up in the early winter. The source noted that it can also help to get the jab against pneumonia.
2. Learn breathing techniques
Talk to your GP about techniques for controlling your breathing during COPD flare ups, the British Lung Foundation advised.
Frequent exercise, including cardio exercise that increases heart rate, can help keep you strong and healthy, reducing symptoms. The British Heart Foundation elaborated that exercise and eating well can help you lose weight. This in turn can improve symptoms because excess weight can worsen breathing problems.
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