Ignorance of widespread disease COPD: The first symptoms are often not taken seriously
Especially now in the cold season, prolonged cough is often not taken seriously enough or attributed to a present flu or a simple cold. But complaints may be caused by a previously incurable widespread 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 defending in the cold period is not strong enough and that's why you have caught a flu or a flu infection. However, symptoms may also indicate chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Although this disease is the third most common cause of death in the world after a heart attack and a stroke, according to experts, knowledge about it is still alarmingly low.
The incurable disease leads to a painful death if not treated
Although more and more people are suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which is popularly known as a smoker or smoker, a knowledge of the disease is still alarmingly low, Australian lung specialists warn.
Because clear symptoms are often ignored and often the doctor is consulting very late, valuable time is lost, because the earlier the disease is treated, the greater the chance today to "stop" COPD.
This is central because the disease can not be cured and, if left untreated, leads to a painful death through suffocation.
Already the first notes are serious
The Secretary General of the Austrian Association of Pulmonology, ÖGP, Prim. Priv.-Doz. Dr Bernd Lambrecht, on the occasion of the World Day of COPD on November 21, stresses the importance of taking the first indication for COPD, such as long-term coughs seriously and for seeing a doctor.
However, as stated in the company's communication, the existence of many different risk factors also makes it necessary to clarify whether COPD is present.
Until several years ago, therapeutic opportunities were still very limited. In recent years, new therapeutic approaches or even hope for a breakthrough in COPD treatment have been reported again.
However, it is always crucial that the earlier the disease was diagnosed and treated, the better the prognosis and the quality of life of the affected people.
Symptoms of AHA may be the first signs
Expectorate, cough, shortness of breath – the so-called. symptoms of AHA may be the first signs of COPD.
But these initial symptoms are often trivialized or attributed to other "circumstances" or illnesses. So, breathing is only a bit limited at the beginning, respiratory distress occurs only when there is physical stress.
Symptom that is rejected with sentences like "You just do not have a good condition at the moment". Even the key symptom of "coughing" will, according to Dr. Med. Unfortunately, Lamprecht is often trivialized.
"COPD is so insidious, among other things, because the first symptoms of patients are often not properly sensitive, recognized and therefore not transmitted to the doctor," said the doctor.
Especially during the cold period, prolonged coughing is in many cases not taken seriously or attributed to infection, and COPD is not recognized on time. Therefore, patients should always report to their doctor for permanent cough.
Especially when the cough persists for more than eight weeks, the alarm should ring.
History can slow down or stop
A simple pulmonary function test, called spirometry, can provide valuable initial information on 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 ill, it can still "hide" the symptoms through avoidance strategies – including yourself.
Ultimately, the COPD is formerly recognized and the more individualized, the more appropriate the course is. Although COPD can not be cured, the course can be slowed down or stopped.
Major risk factor smoking
Although some non-smokers are also affected, "smoking is by far the biggest risk factor for COPD development. Most of all patients with COPD are active or former smokers," Lamprecht's lung expert explained.
"Tobacco smoke contains many substances that cause inflammatory reactions that damage the tissue of the lungs," said the doctor.
"On the one hand, this increases the production of bronchial mucus and, on the other hand, affects the mechanism for self-cleaning of the respiratory tract. Foreign substances can no longer be removed properly and pulmonary tissue is further damaged," the expert said.
"But: not only active but also passive smoking can lead to COPD!"
People from risk groups should become a specialist for lung diseases at the age of 50 years
Other risk factors include: increased respiratory illness in childhood, particle pollution from, for example, traffic and industry and other pollutants from the air and environmental pollution.
Or also workplace stress (for example, chemicals in the plastics industry or in car shops, dust on construction sites, in livestock facilities, in mining and in welding and fire protection, etc.).
People who suffer from a serious, rare hereditary disease, the so-called. alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency are also at high COPD risk.
"Anyone belonging to a risk group, even if not suffering from a chronic cough, should check at the age of 50 at a lung specialist to determine if COPD is present."
COPD affects the whole body
"COPD can also be" related "to other lung diseases. For example, in patients with COPD, lung cancer, pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension, and respiratory disorders are more common during sleep than in healthy peers, "explained Lamprecht.
Consequently, the disease affects the whole body: cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, osteoporosis, but also anemia, muscle loss and weight loss are among the effects of COPD.
"Mental illness, especially anxiety and depression, which increases with the severity of the disease, are a frequent companion to the COPD and additionally hamper the quality of life," Lamprecht said.
Especially in the advanced stage of the disease, in which patients need to cope with severe respiratory problems and continuously receive oxygen through "nasal cannulas".
Although modern mobile devices for oxygen represent enormous progress in the past, patients suffer from limiting their range of movement and action. This often leads them to social isolation.
"Nasal cannula and oxygen therapy immediately show that it is a seriously ill person, and that only affects many people affected as very stressful and stigmatized," Lamprecht said.
Increased quality of life for patients
However, Austrian pulmonary specialists also have good news: thanks to a better knowledge of the various forms of COPD, new insights 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 with significantly less adverse effects treated as before.
"People who have COPD have the same symptoms but different manifestations of the disease," explained Lamprecht.
"And it is precisely this that is now recognizable." Proper therapy "must be used in" the right form. "Today, we are getting better and better."
Various therapeutic options, such as inhaled drugs, oxygen therapy, noninvasive respiratory support, valves for lowering pulmonary hyperinflation, etc., can now be used more where they make the greatest success.
This saves valuable time, avoids unwanted effects and saves costs. And very important: the quality of life of patients is significantly increased. (AD)