COPD and Diabetes
Living with multiple conditions.
“Which came first–the chicken or the egg?” Asking the same question regarding chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) versus diabetes yields a similar conundrum, an ongoing debate in medical research and literature circles. Both COPD and diabetes are serious diseases requiring proper diagnosis and treatment.
COPD and Diabetes Explained
The term COPD encompasses two other lung diseases, chronic bronchitis and emphysema. COPD is progressive and currently incurable, and without proper diagnosis and treatment, health will continue to deteriorate. With COPD, pulmonary inflammation prevents the proper exchange of air. Diabetes or diabetes mellitus is a term used to describe a group of diseases that affect blood sugar, also known as blood glucose, throughout the body. People with diabetes suffer from high amounts of glucose in the blood, which can lead to numerous health complications and adverse symptoms. The hormone insulin regulates glucose levels.
Two top factors cause COPD to develop–smoking and environmental or occupational pollution. For the most part, diabetes occurs because of genetic and environmental factors. The end result for COPD is that the blood is not properly oxygenated, and for diabetes, low levels of insulin result in skyrocketing glucose in the blood which cannot reach the body’s cells to provide energy.
The Connection between COPD and Diabetes
Appearing in Cardiovascular Diabetology, a literature search looked at COPD as a risk factor for diabetes development and vice versa. COPD was viewed as increasing the incidence of diabetes due to its effect on physiological changes like inflammation, resistance to insulin and weight gain. The presence of diabetes was seen to increase the occurrence of lung infections and worsen COPD symptoms causing an increase in flare-ups.
Published in the journal, Thorax, a study looked specifically at the connection between high blood glucose levels with regard to COPD flare-ups. The British group discovered that blood glucose levels were significant in COPD patients who were hospitalized during flare-ups. However, they concluded that more research into the reasons how and why were needed.
A different avenue of research for COPD and diabetes was conducted in Australia. In Diabetes Care, the results of a study of over 18,200 patients showed that there was a corticosteroid dose-dependent risk of hospitalization when an individual had both COPD and diabetes. They concluded that it was important to closely monitor corticosteroid dosage in patients with both diseases.