CAUSES AND TRIGGERS
COPD is a slow progressive disease almost always caused by cigarette smoking. Often COPD is well advanced before other main symptoms such as coughing and breathlessness develop. This means that your lungs may progressively deteriorate to half of their normal functioning capacity before you even become aware of the problem.
Quitting smoking will reduce the rapid rate of damage to the functioning of your lungs. The first year after quitting smoking a person will experience improvements in lung functioning. Stopping smoking with also reduce your risk of developing lung cancer, pneumonia, heart attacks and strokes. The benefits of quitting smoking apply regardless of age, the length of time a person has smoked or the severity of COPD. Smoking cessation is not an easy task. Visit your doctor for further advice about medications and information on how to quit smoking and improve your quality of life.
Inactivity leads to reduction in fitness and muscle strength, resulting in further difficulties when attempting to perform normal daily chores and activities. Physiotherapists and exercise rehabilitation experts can provide guidance on how to perform simple exercises to maintain and improve your overall quality of life.
Excess weight puts more pressure on your lungs, whilst being overweight also takes more energy to move around. On the other hand, losing too much weight means that your muscles begin to weaken, which also leads to breathlessness. Eating small, healthy snacks throughout the day is a good way to form a healthy diet and manage nutrition appropriately. Ask your doctor for further nutritional advice.
Panic, frustration, irritability, depression, distress, fatigue, anxiety and depression are all emotions which contribute to stress. Stress itself is not a cause of COPD, however stress negatively affects a person’s ability to cope with any illness. Priority should be given to managing emotions and stress in order to best cope with COPD.
If a patient experiences typical symptoms of COPD, or has a high exposure to lung irritants, especially cigarette smoke, a doctor will consider a diagnosis of COPD. Doctors use a patient’s medical history, a physical exam, in which the lungs are examined and listened to, and breathing tests in order to determine if a patient suffers from COPD.
Your doctor may also recommend other tests to rule out alternative causes of your signs and symptoms. These tests include: