Table of contents:
The symptoms of COPD are generally difficult to detect and only appear after the sufferer has experienced this condition for years. If the symptoms are not treated immediately, COPD can get worse and make it difficult for the sufferer to breathe
COPD is an inflammatory condition of the lungs that develops over a long period of time. Many people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease think that their COPD symptoms are normal because their body is getting older.
This is because COPD symptoms generally first appear when the sufferer is in their 40s or 50s or when the disease has entered a severe stage.
COPD Symptoms You Need to Know
At first, COPD is asymptomatic or only causes mild symptoms such as cough and runny nose. As the disease progresses and the damage to the lungs gets worse, new patients will experience the following COPD symptoms:
- Shortness of breath, especially after exercising
- Cough with phlegm that doesn't go away
- Chest feels tight or lumpy
- Easy to catch colds or ARI
- Body feels weak or powerless
- Losing weight
- Swollen feet, ankles or legs
- Blueness of the skin and lips (cyanosis)
Untreated COPD symptoms can worsen over time, especially if the sufferer continues to smoke or is exposed to secondhand smoke. This condition can make it difficult for the sufferer to carry out daily activities.
Sometimes, COPD symptoms can worsen suddenly, especially during the rainy season when the air becomes cold. These conditions, called exacerbations, can occur several times a year with a duration of several days.
How to Overcome COPD Symptoms
If you experience some of the COPD symptoms mentioned above, especially if you have risk factors for COPD, such as smoking or living in a place with poor air quality, you should consult a doctor to determine whether the symptoms you are experiencing are COPD symptoms or not.
To diagnose COPD, the doctor will perform a physical examination and supporting examinations, such as blood tests, pulmonary function tests, X-rays, and CT scans of the lungs.
COPD cannot be cured. If you are diagnosed with COPD, your doctor will provide several treatment steps to relieve COPD symptoms and prevent them from getting worse. The following are some steps to treat COPD that doctors can take:
Advise patients to stop smoking
One of the main steps in treating COPD is to stop smoking and avoid exposure to secondhand smoke. If people with COPD don't stop smoking, their condition will get worse and more difficult to treat.
In addition, doctors may also advise patients to stay away from exposure to dust, chemicals, or pollution that can damage the lungs. This step aims to prevent further lung damage.
To relieve COPD symptoms, the doctor will also give the following types of drugs:
- Bronchodilators, to relax the muscles in the respiratory tract and reduce shortness of breath. This drug can be given in the form of an inhaler (inhaler) or taken by mouth.
- Corticosteroids, to reduce inflammation in the airways and prevent exacerbations or recurrence of COPD symptoms.
- Phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitors, to reduce inflammation in the airways and relax the airways.
- Theophylline, to improve breathing and prevent exacerbations. This type of drug is usually used when other treatments are not effective against COPD.
- Antibiotics, to treat infections in the respiratory tract, for example if COPD has already caused complications of pneumonia.
In addition to medication, the doctor will also recommend additional therapy, such as oxygen therapy, oxygen can also be combined with helium gas, and physiotherapy or pulmonary rehabilitation. Several studies have shown that pulmonary physiotherapy can relieve COPD symptoms.
This treatment step is usually carried out in cases of moderate to severe COPD.
Surgery is only performed if COPD symptoms cannot be relieved or treated with medication or therapy. Surgery generally aims to remove damaged lung tissue or a lung transplant.
If you have a history of or are still actively smoking for a long time and are over 35 years old, don't hesitate to get your lungs checked by a doctor. Don't wait until you experience the COPD symptoms above to get treatment.
The earlier COPD is detected and treated, the better your chances of preventing severe COPD symptoms and complications.