“This is a progressive lung disease characterized by a constant decrease in airflow that causes shortness of breath (respiratory distress). Initially, this is related to stressful situations, but it increases and expands over time, ”explains Dr. Maria Valeria El Haj, medical director of vittal. In addition, he warns that when he is not diagnosed, he predisposes to suffer exacerbations, becoming potentially life-threatening. The disease is confirmed by a simple diagnostic test called spirometry, which measures the amount and speed of inspiration and exhausted air.
COPD has the same effect on both sexes and, although it is incurable, adequate pharmacological treatment and physical therapy can alleviate symptoms, improve quality of life and reduce the risk of death. In some cases, respirable corticosteroids and bronchodilators are indicated. Depending on the overall picture, the use of vaccines against influenza and pneumonia and the use of supplemental oxygen are sometimes also recommended. Meanwhile, the loss of physical abilities and the usual development of tasks cause emotional disorders, therefore psychological / family support is very necessary, as is physical rehabilitation.
Dr. El-Haj explains that among the pathologies associated with this disease, chronic bronchitis is characterized by coughing and expectoration for at least three months a year for more than two years, and emphysema, defined loss of lung elasticity, destruction of structures that support the alveoli and the destruction of capillaries that feed blood to the alveoli.
What are the reasons? The main one is exposure to tobacco smoke (both active and passive smokers). Other risk factors that may be considered are air pollution both inside and outside, as well as exposure to dust and chemicals (vapors and gases), as well as a history of respiratory illness in childhood.
The most common symptoms are shortness of breath (shortness of breath), chronic cough, and expectoration (with mucus). As COPD progresses, these symptoms are increasingly appearing even at rest, and one has to sleep in the floor in a sitting position, which makes it difficult for a person’s daily life, headache, insomnia and fatigue.
Similarly, patients suffer from exacerbations, that is, more intense episodes of shortness of breath, coughing and expectoration, which can last from several days to several weeks. These episodes can be very disabling, require emergency medical care (including hospitalization), and sometimes can be fatal.
The very fact of quitting smoking prevents most cases of COPD. WHO therefore emphasizes that countries adopt the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). Although Argentina has not yet joined the project, it has law 26687, which regulates the advertising, promotion and consumption of products produced by tobacco. This provision provides for the creation of a smoke-free environment in closed places of public access; prohibits advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products; and it identifies the mandatory nature of tobacco products, including graphic health warnings, that occupy at least 50% of the package, and which include a smoking cessation line 0800, to help those who want to quit.