The official blog of the Lung Institute.
Sometimes the best preparation is simply knowing what to expect about how COPD affects the body.
For those diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or other lung diseases such as interstitial lung disease or emphysema, some of the first questions to come to mind can often be, “What does COPD mean for my health?” and “How will this change my life?” You may also wonder how COPD affects the body. These questions are undoubtedly difficult to ask, and their answers can be even more difficult to live with. When living with lung disease, time is always a factor. So it’s best to have all the information necessary with enough time to adjust your habits and behavior in order to live a healthier life.
With your health in mind, the Lung Institute is here to give you the blueprint on COPD, its effects on your health and help you better understand how COPD affects the body.
What is COPD?
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive lung disease, meaning that it will gradually worsen over time. COPD is a catch-all for several symptoms of lung disease with chronic bronchitis and emphysema being the main forms. Unfortunately, many have a combination of both.
Chronic Bronchitis is characterized by chronic inflammation of the air passages with airflow obstruction, involving a long-term cough with mucus. With chronic bronchitis, symptoms to expect include:
- Swelling and thickening of the walls within the airways
- Airways begin to narrow
- Excessive mucus forms, blocking airways and increasing the risk of infection, ultimately scarring the lungs and reducing function.
Emphysema involves the destruction of the lung tissue, specifically the alveoli. Symptoms to expect include:
- Air sacs within the ends of the lung’s airways become damaged and stiffer.
- Air becomes trapped within the air sacs, causing them to be overly stretched and broken, causing them to function less efficiently.
- As these air sacs continue to break down, it becomes more difficult to push out the air trapped in the sacs, leading to difficulty pushing air out and drawing air in.
Regrettably, there is no known cure for COPD, and it is impossible to reverse the damage the disease causes. However, with treatment, and behavioral and lifestyle changes, it is possible to mitigate the disease’s progress and allow yourself a healthier and more active life.
COPD Affects the Body
Although you may understand how COPD affects the body on a biological level, a significant question is how will it affect your daily life? Not only does COPD make it difficult to breathe due to more obstructed airways, it can lead to fatigue, chronic cough and frequent respiratory infections.
These conditions can result in less oxygen throughout the body and a more difficult time getting rid of waste gasses such as carbon dioxide, culminating in shortness of breath during daily activities. This makes staying active increasingly difficult as the disease progresses and worsens over time. The effects of COPD on daily life commonly include:
- Losing the ability to work (along with household upkeep)
- Reduced capacity for physical exertion
- Difficulty sleeping
- Inability to engage in social or family activities
- Difficulty dressing, bathing and preparing meals
- Increased recovery time after an outing
- Higher susceptibility to infections such as cold, pneumonia, and flu
- Associated comorbidities such as congestive heart failure
As the breathing process becomes more labored and is unable to receive all the oxygen it needs, carbon dioxide has a tendency to build up inside the body working to make breathing harder and less efficient.
What Can I Do About it?
Although a diagnosis of COPD can seem insurmountable, the first step to living a longer life is finding a treatment that addresses the disease head-on. In fact, Changing one’s diet and gaining consistent exercise are among the best lifestyle changes one can do aside from quitting smoking.
However, if you’re looking to directly address COPD disease progression directly, it may be time to consider stem cell therapy. Rather than only addressing the symptoms of lung disease, stem cell therapy may directly affect disease progression and may improve quality of life and pulmonary function. For people with lung disease, a change in quality of life could mean the difference between struggling to walk to the mailbox and riding a bike.
If you or a loved one suffers from a chronic disease like COPD, emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis or other symptoms of lung disease, the Lung Institute may be able to help with a variety of adult stem cell treatment options. Contact us today at (800) 729-3065 to see if you qualify for stem cell therapy, and find out what stem cell therapy could mean for you.
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