Pulmonologists are lung specialists who diagnose and treat respiratory disorders. The respiratory system includes the lungs and organs that help you breathe.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a continuing lung disease that persist for long term. The early COPD symptoms include shortness of breath and persistent cough with mucus. COPD, by and large, is a term that includes the following pulmonary disease:
- Emphysema: Emphysema is caused by the damage to the air sacs (alveoli), that further destroys the walls inside and merge them into one giant air sac. Since the oxygen doesn’t get absorbed, the blood in the body gets less oxygen. A damaged alveolus makes your lungs stretch out and lose their flexibility, thus causing shortness of breath.
- Chronic Bronchitis: If you have prolonged cough, shortness of breath and mucus (lingering for atleast 3 months to 2 years in a row) you might need to see a pulmonologist as it is an acute symptom of chronic bronchitis. The bronchial tubes have hair-like fibres, known as cilia line, that helps mucus out. In chronical bronchitis, you lose the cilia, thus, making it hard to get rid of the mucus. This makes you cough more and creates more mucus.
Long term exposure to things that irritate your lungs is the most common cause of COPD. This is usually caused by smoking cigarette, pipe or any other type of tobacco-induced substance. If you are exposed to the smoke from any of the source mentioned for a longer-term, the chances are high that you can get COPD. If you smoke and have asthma, then you are at the higher end of the risk causing COPD.
You can also develop the condition in the long run, if you are exposed to the environment rich in dust, air pollution, or other chemicals. Your genes are another factor that plays a role in causing COPD. People carrying genes deficit in alpha 1 antitrypsin, don’t have enough protein to protect them from the damage of toxic air, leading to COPD.
Tips to prevent COPD:
- Quit Smoking: Smoking of any kind is dangerous to lungs! If you don’t smoke, don’t ever start. If you do, quit. If you have difficulty quitting, refer to a pulmonologist nearby.
- Healthy Breathing: Stay away from things that are toxic to your lungs – fumes, smoke, toxins, dust, etc.
- Watch out for Cold, infections and virus: If you have COPD, even a common cold can cause you so much trouble. For precaution, wash your hands well and often. Use hand sanitizer when people around are sick or if you are at some public place.
- Vaccines to save: Do not miss into the periodic vaccine. Protect your lungs against the flu and pneumonia.
- AAT Deficiency: A blood test can detect AAT deficiency. If you aren’t exposed to the toxic air and still have serious lung symptoms, then AAT might be a cause.
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