What is COPD?
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is the umbrella term used to describe a group of progressive lung diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and asthma. These conditions are characterized by the buildup of scar tissue in the lungs that causes increasing breathlessness, coughing, fatigue, and decreased stamina. Diseases under the COPD umbrella have no cure.
Is COPD serious?
Yes. COPD is the third leading cause of death by disease in the United States, and more than 11 million people have been diagnosed with COPD. Researchers estimate that many millions more may have COPD and don’t know it. Most people do not realize they have COPD until symptoms become severe.
Many symptoms of COPD are overlooked, as shortness of breath can be explained as “being out of shape” or “just getting older.” Unfortunately, many don’t identify the symptoms of COPD until the advanced stages of the disease. Symptoms for COPD include, but are not limited to:
- Shortness of breath
- Chronic cough
- Chest tightness
- Recurring respiratory infections
- Cyanosis (bluish coloration of the lips or nail beds)
- Overproduction of mucus
- Swollen feet, ankles, or legs
Early detection of COPD is vital to treatment. As mentioned, many people wait until the disease is advanced to talk to their doctor and waste valuable treatment time by waiting for symptoms to become severe.
What causes COPD?
COPD can be caused by many things, including exposure to environmental pollutants, dust, and chemicals that irritate the lungs. However, the primary cause of COPD is smoking. Researchers estimate that nearly 90 percent of COPD cases are caused by smoking. This number includes those cases connected to secondhand smoke.
COPD Risk Factors
In addition to smoking, which accounts for an estimated 90% of COPD diagnoses, other risk factors include:
- Being over the age of 40: most COPD symptoms don’t begin until over the age of 40.
- Having a genetic condition known as Alpha-1 Antitrypsin deficiency: this is a rare inherited disorder that can lead to COPD. Also called AAT, this deficiency increases your chances for lung and liver disease.
- Having asthma: untreated asthma over time can lead to lung damage and COPD. If you have asthma and you smoke, your chances of getting COPD are even higher.
- Being exposed to pollutants: including secondhand smoke, air pollution, chemicals, fumes, and dust.
Your doctor will complete a health exam, review your medical history, and complete diagnostic tests to determine if you have COPD. In addition to your exam and tests, important information from your medical history will include important information related to risk factors such as:
- If you have a history of smoking, or currently smoke
- If you are regularly exposed to air pollution such as secondhand smoke, chemicals, dust, etc.
- If you have family members who have had COPD
Testing for COPD will likely be done via spirometry, which evaluates how well your lungs function. The test involves blowing air into a tube that’s attached to a small machine, which records the air you blow out and how fast you can do so. Oftentimes, this test can detect COPD prior to symptoms becoming severe. Testing may also involve chest X-rays, or blood gas tests to detect your blood oxygen level. Blood gas tests can determine your lungs’ ability to move oxygen in your blood (and carbon dioxide out).
Treatments for COPD
Conventional treatments include medications such as bronchodilators and steroids, oxygen therapy, and pulmonary rehabilitation. Other treatments for COPD include self-care steps like exercising, eating a healthy diet, and not smoking. Treatment for those with COPD is unique to each person, as the symptoms for each are different.
Some individuals living with COPD have seen the benefits of adult stem cell therapy from Innovations Stem Cell Center. These benefits include reduced inflammation and tissue damage, improved breathing, and improved stamina. Other benefits include reduced reliance on steroids, medications, and oxygen therapy.
Contact Innovations Medical for Adult Stem Cell Therapy for COPD
If you’re looking to learn more about the benefits of adult stem cell therapy for COPD, Innovations Stem Cell Center is here for you. Our skilled professionals help you decide which treatment is best for you – keeping you informed and confident in the next steps. We’ve been performing stem cell treatments in North Texas since 2013. Together with the Cell Surgical Network, we have now performed over 12,000 treatments.