Ignoring the spread of COPD disease: The first symptoms are often not taken seriously
Especially now, in the cold period, prolonged cough is often not taken seriously or attributed to a present flu or a simple cold. But complaints can also be caused by a large-scale untreatable disease: COPD.
The third leading cause of death worldwide
If there is a prolonged cough in the autumn and winter, this is often explained by the fact that simply defenses in the cold are not strong enough and that is why you have caught a flu or a flu infection. But symptoms may also indicate chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Although this disease is the third leading cause of death worldwide after heart attack and stroke, according to experts, the knowledge about it is still alarmingly low.
The untreatable disease leads to painful death if it is not treated
Although more and more people suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, also known as the cough of the smoker or the lung of smokers, knowing this disease in the population is still alarming, warns Austria's pulmonary specialists.
Since clear symptoms are often ignored and often a doctor is consulted very late, precious time is lost because the more the disease is treated earlier, the greater the opportunities to stop COPD.
This is of central importance because the disease can not be healed and, if left untreated, leads to a painful death by choking.
He still notes seriously
Secretary-General of the Austrian Pulmonology Society, ÖGP, Prim. Priv.-Doz. Dr. Bernd Lamprecht, on the occasion of World COPD Day on November 21, underlines the importance of taking seriously the first indications of COPD, such as long-term cough, and seeing the doctor.
However, as stated in a company communication, the existence of a number of different risk factors also requires clarifying whether COPD is present.
Until a few years ago, the therapeutic possibilities were still very limited. In recent years, new therapeutic approaches or even hope for progress in COPD have been reported again and again.
However, it is always important that earlier the disease is diagnosed and treated, the better the prognosis and the quality of life of those affected.
AHA symptoms may be the first signs
Expectoration, coughing, shortness of breath – so-called AHA symptoms may be the first signs of COPD.
But these initial symptoms are often trivialized or attributable to other "circumstances" or diseases. So, breathing is just a little limited at first, respiratory distress occurs only when physical stress.
A symptom that is rejected with sentences such as "You are currently not in good shape." Even the key symptom "cough" will be, according to Dr. Med. Unfortunately, Lamprecht was trivial.
"COPD is so insidious, among other things, because the first symptoms of patients are often not perceived properly, recognized and therefore not communicated to the doctor," the doctor said.
Especially during the cold period, prolonged cough is not, in many cases, taken seriously or attributed to an infection, and COPD is not recognized on time. Therefore, patients should always report to their doctor about a persistent cough.
Especially when the cough persists for more than eight weeks, the alarm should sound.
History can be slowed or stopped
A simple pulmonary function test, called spirometry, can provide valuable information about the possible presence of COPD.
It is important to diagnose and treat the condition as soon as the symptoms are not clinically significant. In other words, if the patient is already sick, but he can "hide" symptoms through avoidance strategies – including oneself.
After all, previous COPD is recognized and the more individualized, the more favorable the course. Although COPD can not be cured, the course may be slowed or stopped.
The main risk factor for smoking
Although some nonsmokers are also affected, "smoking is by far the biggest risk factor for COPD development." Most COPD patients are active smokers or smokers, "Lamprecht, a lung specialist, explained.
"Tobacco smoke contains many substances that cause inflammatory reactions that affect lung tissue," the doctor said.
"On the one hand, this increases the production of bronchial mucus and, on the other hand, affects the mechanism of self-cleansing of the respiratory tract. Foreign substances can not be properly removed and lung tissue is further damaged," says the wizard .
But: not only active smoking, but also passive can lead to COPD! "
People in risk groups should become a lung specialist at the age of 50
Other risk factors include: increased respiratory disease in childhood, dust pollution, for example, traffic and industry, and other pollutants from air pollution and the environment.
Or also workplace stress (eg chemical products from the plastics industry or machine paint, dust on construction sites, cattle stores, mining and welding and fire fighting, etc.).
Persons suffering from a serious, rare, hereditary illness, the so-called alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency, also have an increased risk of COPD.
Anyone in a risk group, even if he is not suffering from chronic cough, should, at the latest 50 years of age, consult with the lung specialist to determine if COPD is present.
COPD affects the whole body
COPD can also be associated with other lung diseases. For example, in COPD patients, lung cancer, pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension and respiratory disorders occur more often during sleep than in healthy patients, "Lamprecht explained.
Subsequently, the disease affects the entire body: cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, osteoporosis, but also anemia, muscle loss and weight loss are among the consequences of COPD.
"Mental illness, especially anxiety and depression, which grow with the severity of the disease, are a frequent companion of COPD and, moreover, make life more difficult," Lamprecht said.
Especially in the advanced stage of the disease, where patients have to deal with severe respiratory stress and consistently obtain oxygen through "nasal cannulae".
Although modern mobile oxygen devices are a huge advance in the past, patients suffer from limiting their range of motion and action. This often leads them to social isolation.
The nasal cannula and oxygen therapy immediately show that he is a seriously ill person. And that alone affects many affected people as being very stressful and stigmatizing, "Lamprecht said.
Increasing the quality of patients' lives
However, Austrian pulmonary specialists also have good news: due to a better understanding of different forms of COPD, new perspectives and a deeper understanding of the complex relationships of this disease, modern diagnostic options and new drugs, and concurrent therapies, patients with COPD today can do much better and much less Side effects are treated as early.
People with COPD have the same symptoms but different manifestations of the disease, Lamprecht explained.
"And that's right now to admit." The right therapy "must be used in" the right form. "And now we are better and better.
Various therapeutic options, such as inhaled drugs, oxygen therapy, non-invasive respiratory support, valves for reducing lung hyperinflation, etc. can be used more and more when they produce the most success.
This saves precious time, avoids side effects and saves costs. And very important: the quality of life of patients is significantly increased. (Ad)