What is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease?
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is a progressive form of lung disease ranging from mild to severe. It is characterized by a restriction of airflow into and out of the lungs that makes breathing difficult. COPD is the umbrella term for sufferers who have been diagnosed with or show signs of emphysema and/or chronic bronchitis.
For nearly all people who develop COPD, the disease is terminal and will be with them for the rest of their life. Although this is a dire prognosis, there are ways to combat the disease, and the first way is understanding the progression of COPD.
Stages of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
The least severe form of the disease is COPD Stage 1. This stage is also called mild COPD, and the symptoms and treatments are the least aggressive. A major sign that a person has COPD is the capacity of his or her lungs is decreased. Due to constant inflammation of the airways, COPD patients struggle to breathe properly. They have difficulty blowing out air with any force, and the overall volume of air they can hold in their lungs is diminished.
Stages 2 and 3 are characterized by a worsening of lung functioning and the increase of devastating symptoms like chronic coughing, sputum, dyspnea and shortness of breath. The last stage of COPD is Stage 4 or end stage COPD. In this stage, people can expect to see lung functioning drop to nearly 30 percent. Supplemental oxygen is typically a definite fixture for the rest of the patient’s life as some of them drop below 90 percent oxygen saturation rates in their blood stream. Stage 4 COPD is commonly when patients seek more advanced treatment options like surgery or even lung transplants. Alternative treatment options are also available in the form of stem cell therapy. Some innovative companies are utilizing the stem cells in the patient’s blood or fat to slow down the progression of the disease. Although this treatment option is not a cure, it can greatly increase quality of life.
Smoking & Second Hand Smoke
The primary cause of COPD is tobacco smoke. COPD can develop in both current and former smokers. Long-term cigarette use or exposure to tobacco soaks the lungs in harmful toxins that cause severe damage leading to many of the diseases that make up COPD. Not everyone that has COPD smoked, and not everyone that smoked has COPD.
If you or a loved one has developed any stage of COPD, know that there is help out there. You don’t need to simply accept that there is nothing that can be done to treat or ward off the progression of the disease. If you want to learn more about treatment options, please contact us or call (800) 729-3065 today.