Health Concerns Associated With COPD
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) affects breathing, but may also cause other unexpected health concerns, like depression, as well. It is a progressive disease, meaning that it can be controlled somewhat, but never cured, and over time it will continue to get more severe. It is most commonly caused by smoking, and made worse by air pollution, allergies and a number of other triggers. Most people diagnosed with the disease worry only about controlling and slowing the progression of their breathing problems, but there are other health concerns they need to be aware of as well.
Concerns of Lung Health
Having COPD increases the risk of respiratory infections because COPD sufferers have swelling within their lungs and bronchial tubes that can prevent them from being able to expel mucus. When mucus remains too long, an infection can occur. An additional risk is from lung cancer. Since most COPD patients are former smokers, this is believed to be the connection.
Risk of Heart Disease
There are several ways COPD can lead to heart issues. When not breathing correctly, the blood is not becoming oxygenated properly. This means the heart has to pump harder to get the oxygen it needs. It can lead to heart failure or edema in the lungs or the legs. Edema, a condition where fluid fills the body, can make breathing more difficult and result in the heart having to work even harder.
Higher Blood Pressure
The reduced oxygen in the blood can cause high blood pressure. This condition will eventually lead to heart issues if not properly addressed. The medications used to control COPD symptoms can also raise blood pressure, as can cold and allergy medications. Since many COPD sufferers are especially susceptible to catching colds, the frequent use of these products is often more severe than for the average user.
Protecting Emotional Health
One issue often overlooked by the friends and family of people with COPD is depression. When people are unable to sleep properly and be as active as they once were, it can lead to this condition. Studies have shown that nearly 40 percent of COPD patients suffer from clinical depression.
Reducing the Risks Associated with COPD
- Take all COPD medications exactly as instructed.
- Do not smoke, or be exposed to cigarette smoke in any way.
- Avoid all known allergens.
- Meet with a nutritionist to develop a healthy diet plan.
- Talk to a doctor about adult stem cell therapy. For some it can improve lung function and make activity easier.
- Exercise carefully, but regularly, to help keep the lungs and heart stronger.
- Find out more about lung volume reduction surgery. This removes the damaged part of the lung to make it easier for the healthy section to work properly.
Even though COPD cannot be cured, it can be controlled, and its progression can be slowed considerably. By doing so, people can also reduce the risks they face from the other conditions that are associated with the disease.