COPD-What Are the Risk Factors?


Smoking is not the only way to get COPD. There are other ways to get the disease.

What is COPD? It is an acronym – C meaning chronic or doesn’t go away, O or obstructive- not getting enough air out or the airways, you can get it in buy getting it out is the problem. THen P or pulmonary which means the lung area and then D stands for disease.

A patient will get this diagnosis by taking a test with an apparatus called a spirometer. It will measure the airflow and obstruction. The time to do this test is when the patient is sick with bronchitis.

Asthma is where the patient may have trouble getting air out because the airway is narrowed. The large airways in the lungs have a abnormal contraction. This can be normalized and opened with a daily controller drug or quick-relief medication. But in COPD it can’t be normalized.

In COPD looking at the U.S. 95% of the patients have smoked a pack a day for at least 10 years.

There is a genetic alpha-1-antitrypsin that a person with two of these genes can develop emphysema at a early age. The most common cause is tobacco smoke but in Third World countries a woman living in a one room shat with a stove that has no ventilation can also get this disease. So the environmental causes are mostly in Third World countries.

So people that would be more apt to be predisposed to the alpha-1-antitrypsin would be northern Europeans and Scandinavians rather than African-Americans, Native Americans or Latinos.

Those with the deficiency(the alpha-1-antitrypsin) can get treatment replacing the enzyme and lessen the decline of the disease with monthly infusions. But those without the enzyme can’t. It just doesn’t work.

It just seems to run in families and is triggered by heavy smoking.

The enzyme is most important in reducing stress and preventing inflammation from the damaged air sacks. But with out it the bad enzymes act like Pack-man and chew up the lungs and are not held back by the good enzymes.

We don’t why and there are intriguing theories as to why COPD happens to smokers. The lung may be sensitized and the tobacco may make the body think that the lungs are foreign substance and there for go after it.

Women may be more subseptible to the effects of tobacco than are men. More women are dying from lung can than are men. And more COPD patients in women than in men.

The best thing for the COPD patient is to quit smoking. The disease of COPD can have two sides. One is the shortness of breath and the other continued episodes of bronchitis. If you have a bronchitis several times a year you may have a continued decline of lung function. That is even if you have quit smoking.

There are two different groups of bronchodilators that open the bronchi and a cortisone derivative like that used to treat asthma. They are just of higher strength.

Pulmonary rehabilitation is now a Medicare benefit. A six week program will teach strategies on how to get from one place to another without feeling like you are going to die. About have of COPD patients have Medicare and about 50% are below the age of Medicare.

Learn to breath in through the nose and out through the mouth with lips pursed as if you are whistling. That keeps enough air pressure in the airways to keep them from narrowing as you exhale. You can recapture by training the muscles and before long it takes less air to do the activity.

COPD is actually on the rise with 12 million diagnosed with it and another 12 million that don’t know that they have it.

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